This week the New York Post published an interview with Rob Wiesenthal, the CEO of Blade, saying that he wakes up after only two hours of sleep “without an alarm clock,” then makes overseas calls for two hours, takes a two hour nap, and then works a full day. The article also mentioned my recent open letter to Elon Musk and what the science says about what happens when we work 120-hour weeks.
I know and very much like Rob Wiesenthal, and he is absolutely right — if you’re truly a short sleeper, you don’t need the 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night that the vast majority of us do to feel rested and recharged. But for this to be the case, you have to be part of the one and a half percent of the population that has a genetic mutation (a single DNA sequence change causing a switch from proline to arginine in the 385th amino acid of the DEC2 protein). You can actually be tested to see if you have the short-sleeper mutation — but one sign that you don’t is if you wake up exhausted and tweet erratic things that undermine your company and alarm your board members. Wiesenthal is also right that industries in New York City, as in Silicon Valley and all over the world, are highly competitive — given the clear and unambiguous science connecting sleep and performance, that’s an argument for more sleep, not for less.