The Sleep Routines of 50 Successful People

What if you could boost your chances of success just by lying down? Sounds like a “win-win”, right?

Sleep is an underrated resource in today’s time-obsessed world. Cutting short your sleep – or tolerating a night of discomfort and interruptions – is a serious false-economy.

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Your memory, focus, and ability to think clearly are harnessed to your sleep quality. Good sleep, night after night, saves you making silly decisions or big mistakes. But it also powers your creativity and verve. An improved sleep pattern can transform a struggler into a superstar.

We wanted to illustrate this with some major league examples, so we researched the sleep patterns of famous high-achievers in recent history. Books, including The Daily Rituals by Mason Currey and Odd Type Writers by Celia Blue Johnson, provided insights into how these successful people prepare for bed, and how long they sleep.

Today we’re publishing our findings as a visual guide to the bedtime rituals of 50 big-hitters, from Donald Trump to Pablo Picasso. We’ve also created a new online sleep calculator to compare the amount of sleep you get to the people in our study.

Header Early Birds and Night Owls

Key Findings

  • The biggest sleeper on our list might just save the world. Sure, Greta Thunberg’s 9-hour nights are partly due to her age. But the 17-year-old has remained energized and level-headed enough to achieve a Nobel Peace Prize nomination and a place among Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
  • Donald Trump and Gordon Ramsay are the shortest sleepers on our list – each of them works right up to bedtime and then sleeps for just three hours.
  • Mark Wahlberg is our ‘earliest bird.’ Wahlberg goes to bed 7:30-8 pm when possible and wakes at 2:30 am for prayer, breakfast, and something called cryo chamber recovery.
  • Our ‘nightiest night owl’ is Mark Zuckerberg, who presumably spends the small hours on Facebook (‘working’) before he hits the sack at 3 am.
  • Athlete Cristiano Ronaldo has the most unusual night-time routines, enjoying several short periods of sleep with gaps between to relax or train.

How Much Sleep Do Famous High-achievers Get?

Our infographic illustrates what 50 successful people do before and after sleep, and how much sleep they get in the middle. It reveals that just a handful of these high-achievers are satisfied by fewer than 6-7 hours per night. Billionaire Richard Branson claims five hours is all he needs – although there could be other things keeping him awake at night. Winston Churchill also slept five hours a night, but topped up with a mandatory daytime nap. “It was one of the inflexible rules of Mr. Churchill’s daily routine that he should not miss this rest,” according to his valet, Frank Sawyers.

You can also see that the ‘short-sleepers’ tend to work right up towards bedtime. For instance, Dwayne Johnson’s busy schedule requires him to work late before sleeping like an actual rock. Meanwhile, the ‘long-sleepers’ take care of themselves by reading and/or relaxing to prepare for a sleep that is as deep as it is long. Marie Kondo calms down by diffusing a Japanese wood essential oil called Kuromoji to lull her into an eight-hour slumber.

Sleep Routines of 50 Successful People

Who is Your Celebrity Sleep Routine Buddy?

What time did you go to sleep last night? What time did you wake up? Enter these figures into the calculator to reveal your total sleep time and a comparison with the celebrities in our study. But remember, a good sleep routine requires regularity – so come back to check your results all week to stay as sharp and in-control as the most inspiring people on our chart.

For most people, anything less than 7-9 hours of sleep will impact their mood, focus, and higher-level brain functions for days. Of course, this might be how you work best! Donald Trump’s three-hour sleeps allow for the famous late-night and ‘morning bathroom’ Tweets that got him to the top. Chef Gordon Ramsay also sleeps for three hours – and became famous for the emotional outbursts that we associate with being sleep-deprived.

But these men are the exceptions. To create the best possible conditions for success, you should arrange the best possible conditions for a good night’s sleep. After all, sleeping well is the most pleasant change you can make to be the best you.

Methodology & Sources

Our research began by compiling a list of current famous/successful people. We used The Daily Rituals book by Mason Currey to source some of the older successful/famous people and their night-time rituals. We then searched “Most Famous People of 2020” and “Most Successful People of 2020” to compile a list of current famous/successful people. Next, we found data on websites such as Business Insider, Brain Pickings, and – which lists the daily schedule of many on our list. Using these resources and more, we were able to piece together the sleep regimes of each of the celebrities in our study.

To help you get a closer look at our research, we’ve shared the data in an online spreadsheet: