Last night, I experienced something rare and amazing.
After two busy weeks that resulted in very limited rest, my body, which had been sending me clear messages in the form of muddled thoughts, blurry vision and aching joints, took full advantage of what was meant to be a short and innocent rest on my couch.
It was a rest that lasted eleven hours.
I should note also that I awoke in my pajamas and in my own bed, unaware of how I got into either. Somehow I managed this with no alcohol and despite the presence of two young children who typically rampage around the house until bedtime.
Related: 5 Common Sleep Myths Debunked
I can only say that I am thankful for having a wonderful and understanding wife.
While my extended sleep really helped me rejuvenate for the rest of my week, I was still consumed with guilt for the tasks that went unfinished, emails that went unanswered and calls that went unmade. And yes, for my children that went unattended.
Of course, my guilt is seeded in the common belief that entrepreneurs never sleep. While this perception is mostly perpetuated by lore and legend, it is one that I have worked hard to live up to over the years. According to the below infographic by HomeArena, however, the amount of sleep successful entrepreneurs actually get varies widely, with many getting the scientifically proposed optimal amount of seven to nine hours per night.
OK, so maybe I should not feel guilty about getting too much sleep once in awhile. But how about waking early? “The early bird gets the worm,” right?
For years, I have been saddled with guilt because I simply have a difficult time regularly waking early in the morning. I have, on a few occasions, developed a good morning habit, only to see it dissolve after a weekend binge watching on Netflix late into the night.
While the infographic shows that most successful entrepreneurs start their days early, recent studies have identified a gene that may be responsible for whether you function better at night or in the morning. So whether you are a morning person or not may actually be something that nature decides, not you.
I clearly do not have the morning-person gene.
The lesson here is that the only person who can tell you how much sleep you need is you, and your body has mechanisms in place to let you know when you need it — so listen to them. Remember also that ignoring these signs can have a tremendous impact on your mood, productivity and health.
So develop a good sleep routine that takes into consideration your habits, schedule and natural-sleep inclination. Make sure you start your day properly, regardless of what time that may be, with a great morning routine.
Once you find your groove, you will be shocked at just how well you handle the challenges of everyday business.
Need more inspiration? Check out the sleep habits of these 21 successful entrepreneurs.
Related: 5 Strategies for Waking Up on Time