We often hear that entrepreneurs work so hard that they do not get much sleep, but how true is this claim?

Sleep researchers say that we should get around eight hours sleep a night. To set up and run a successful business takes a lot of hard work and long hours, but lack of sleep, particularly if it’s cut down to four hours or less, can seriously impair performance. Cutting back on sleep is counterproductive because sleep deprivation weakens concentration and coordination and creates a lack of energy. This negatively affects the running of a business.

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Bill Gates, who is one of the world’s richest men through his company Microsoft, claims to sleep seven hours a night and manages to get lots of work done. Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, also manages a similar amount of sleep.

Richard Branson sleeps between five and six hours a night so gets less than the recommended amount of sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to higher blood pressure and in extreme cases, a heart attack. Branson makes up for lack of sleep by exercising daily to keep fit.

Branson delegates well so that he does not have to do everything himself. Entrepreneurs who find themselves overworked should consider offering work to other employees rather than sacrificing sleep to get tasks finished.

If an entrepreneur finds that they feel exhausted, then ten to twenty-minute power naps can be effective in restoring cognitive functions.

Though many people spend a few hours in bed, this does not always equate to a long restful sleep. Entrepreneurs that are busy running several projects may find that they cannot switch off at night because they are too busy thinking about what needs to be done. Meditation, listening to relaxing music or light reading for half an hour are all ways to relax the mind ready for sleep, and a comfortable bed can only help too.