Sleep has been one of the most en vogue topics for founders and just modern humans in general. We’re surrounded by struggle porn that tells us to hustle our faces off, as well as more screens and stimulative calories than our grandparents could dream of in their lifetime. While we’ve learned more and more about what sleep does to the body, we’re forced to wonder how sleep impacts the success of a company.
From a growth perspective, the results are actually quite interesting.
We compared companies with founders who averaged sleep at the medically recommended amount of 7 to 8 hours with the companies who had founders who received less than 7 hours of sleep.
Note that founders of companies who were averaging 4 to 7 hours of sleep did seem to have higher growth rates than their more restful counterparts, but the gains weren’t considerable, topping out at 12% higher on a relative basis at the peak. Companies helmed by founders receiving less than 4 hours of sleep per night were essentially dead on with the founders who were getting the fully recommended allotment of sleep, and within the interquartile range were actually trending to grow at a lower rate.
The story gets a bit more interesting when looking at founder happiness in the context of sleep. We measured a Founder NPS or net promoter score, which was essentially looking at how likely founders were to recommend becoming a founder to others.
We found that those individuals getting the most sleep had the highest fNPS with a score of 70. They were very closely followed by those founders averaging 4 to 7 hours with a score of 65. Those individuals receiving an average amount of sleep over 4 hours per night had an fNPS that plummeted to 12.
So what’s this mean?
Well, this data is highly qualitative with plenty of lurking variables, so it definitely has limits. There seems to be an indication that losing some sleep, which you’re bound to do as a founder, does have advantages. Of course, if you go too far and get even less sleep, your well being is going to hit rock bottom and you’re not going to gain the growth tradeoffs that you think you will by sacrificing your health.
All that being said – you have to keep in mind that building a company is a marathon that appears to be a sprint. You do need to move quickly, but you also need to be doing things that are purpose built for the long term.
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