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Jeff Bezos shares his sleep-focused lifestyle for better decision-making and productivity

Being the second richest person in the world certainly has its perks, but there’s no arguing that earning unfathomable amounts of money often comes with a busy lifestyle. Jeff Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon, who also has his fingers in many other financial pies, is no stranger to the pressures of a high-profile lifestyle.

But unlike his compatriots, he seems to have a better grasp of his priorities, balancing family, downtime and work better than most – at least according to one interview clips with the billionaire shared on X (formally Twitter) which has received almost 5 million views. (1)

Jeff Bezos’ sleep-centered routine

Bezos’ routine revolves around sleep and using his energy and brain power during rush hour. “I go to bed early, I wake up early, I like to putt in the morning. I like to read the newspaper, I like to have coffee, I like to have breakfast with my children before they go to school. My putter time is very important to me,” he says in the clip.

He schedules no meetings until 10, prefers mentally stimulating meetings before lunch because that’s when he feels most productive. “Because at 5 p.m., like, I can’t think about it today. Let’s try again at 10 tomorrow,” he says.

Bezos also emphasizes the importance of getting eight hours of sleep to make quality decisions: “I think better. I have more energy. My mood is better.” He achieves his long night’s sleep by going to bed well in advance and being out early. As a senior executive, says Bezos, you get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions. “Is it really worth it if the quality of the decisions can be lower because you are tired or angry?” he asks.

As a high-profile executive, Bezos’ philosophy differs from many others in similar roles, including Elon Musk and Virgin mogul Richard Branson, who claim they only get six hours a night, one hour less than the minimum seven American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends for healthy function. Martha Stewart, America’s first female self-made billionaire, reportedly survived on just three hours of shuteye during the peak of her career.

Manage energy instead of time

While the entrepreneurial boom of the 1990s and early 2000s paved the way for vibrant culture, spawning Silicon Valley tech giants like Google and Facebook, the appeal of a #riseandgrind mindset has slowly lost its luster. With the economic turmoil that has persisted since 2008, people have gradually turned away from occupying their time, with more and more focus now on energy conservation.

Bezos’ principles—waking up early, starting the day slowly with things you enjoy, and prioritizing certain times of the day for more mentally demanding tasks—are worth considering, regardless of your bank status.

Being an early riser

“Waking up early can be beneficial for a few important reasons. First, it aligns with our natural circadian rhythms, which often leads to better sleep quality and improved mood,” says Dr. Chelsea Perry, owner of Sleep solutions in Westborough, MA, and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Waking up early can also reduce stress by allowing more time to plan and complete tasks, leading to a more productive and fulfilling day, according to Dr. Perry. “Early risers also tend to have more time for morning sunlight, which boosts vitamin D levels and helps regulate our internal clock,” she adds.

However, you don’t necessarily have to rise with the sun as it may be better to work with your own natural rhythms. “If his chronotype is an early morning type, it sounds like it works well for him, but that doesn’t mean it’s something others should try to emulate unless they’re naturally ‘morning people,'” says Alexis Haselbergertime management, productivity and leadership coach at Alexis Haselberger Coaching and Consulting, Inc.

“There’s nothing special or better about ‘early to bed, early to rise,’ and if you’re naturally more of a night owl, this wouldn’t work well at all. And worse, you’d feel bad that it didn’t works,” says Haselberger. It’s much better to try to configure your work and time when you’re naturally tired rather than forcing your body clock to be something it’s not.

Starts the day slowly

Putting around in the morning before starting the day provides a gentle transition from sleep to wakefulness. Dr. Perry says this unstructured time can help reduce stress and set a positive tone that can help you feel more centered and in control. “Plus, taking a moment to enjoy simple pleasures, like a quiet cup of coffee or a leisurely breakfast, can improve your overall well-being and productivity,” she adds.

Haselberger emphasizes that there is nothing special about this routine except that it works for Bezos. But one significant benefit she sees is that he probably won’t be checking email or messages first thing in the morning. She finds huge productivity and mental health gains from delaying checking your phone or messages. “If you can focus on things that matter to you, whether personal or work, for a while, after you wake up before you get into your messages, you’ll be more proactive with your time and not be as prone to feel as if the day “happened to you,” she says.

Blocks high IQ tasks during peak alertness

Scheduling your most mentally challenging meetings at 10 a.m. can lead to better decision-making and overall productivity. According to Dr. Perry, tackling complex problems and making important decisions early in the day can help you become more efficient. It can also give you a sense of accomplishment and make the rest of the day feel more manageable and productive.

Executive function coach Krissy Metzler says there are significant benefits to reflecting and deciding when you are most alert. “For some individuals, like Jeff Bezos, it’s mid-morning, but for others, they may feel most lucid and wake up at a different time of day,” she says.

By taking the time to recognize when you’re in the best mental state to be productive, you can schedule your day in a way that works “with” your brain rather than “against” it, according to Metzler. “Scheduling difficult tasks for an off-peak time can make the task take longer than expected or cause additional stress and frustration,” she says. Intentionally take time to notice when you feel your best and how that affects your productivity. “Once you become aware of the pattern, you’ll be better suited to tailor your schedule to what works best for your brain.”

Getting a full eight hours of sleep

“Getting 8 hours of sleep is like giving your brain a full recharge, which directly increases your productivity,” says Dr. Perry. “When you’re well-rested, you can think more clearly, make better decisions and stay focused on tasks for longer—plus, good sleep helps with memory and learning, so you’re better equipped to handle new information and challenges,” she adds.

Research shows that insufficient sleep can cause a 40 percent reduction in workplace productivity, limiting your ability to perform and potentially leading to loss of income and opportunity to climb the career ladder. (2) According to an article published in Nature, getting better sleep can increase attention span, improve memory and help regulate mood, all of which support productivity and well-being. (3)

Haselberger believes this is the principle that applies to almost everyone. “Studies show that adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to thrive, and there are no medals for ‘sleeping the least.'” In fact, if we have sleep debt, our performance drops dramatically, we make poorer decisions, we do more wrong and our work takes longer,” she says.

“There are lots of people who think they can ‘get by’ on fewer hours of sleep, but this is a losing proposition in the long run,” adds Haselberger. Getting enough sleep is perhaps the single best thing we can do for both our productivity and our mood.

Sources


1. @historyinmemes; “Jeff Bezos Talks About a Billionaire’s Morning Routine,” Historic Vids via X.com; https://x.com/historyinmemes/status/1807398933439840516; 30 June 2024.

2. Amy C Reynolds, Pieter Coenen, Bastien Lechat, Leon Straker, Juliana Zabatiero, Kath J Maddison, Robert J Adams and Peter Eastwood; “Insomnia and workplace productivity loss among young working adults: a prospective observational study of clinical sleep disorders in a community cohort,” The Medical Journal of Australia; https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2023/219/3/insomnia-and-workplace-productivity-loss-among-young-working-adults-prospective; 10 July 2023.

3. Forrester, Nikki; “How Better Sleep Can Improve Productivity,” Nature; https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-02307-z; 17 July 2023.

Perry, Chelsea. Author interview. July 2024.

Metzler, Krissy. Author interview. July 2024.

Haselberger, Alexis. Author interview. July 2024.

Rachel McPherson

Rachel MacPherson, BA, is a CPT, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Exercise Nutrition Specialist, Certified Pre/Postpartum Fitness Coach, and Pain Free Performance Specialist. She is passionate about giving readers simple, practical tips to make living an active, vibrant and fulfilling life easier. When she’s not writing, you can find her lifting heavy things, reading, exploring the outdoors, or watching the latest installment in the Star Wars universe. She lives with her family and pets in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada.

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