Working efficiently and sleeping as little as possible is a current trend, e.g IT-Billionaires - and not only counterproductive, but also harmful to health. If you want to understand this, you have to deal with the function of the body.

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Sleep like an IT billionaire?

If you want to be rich and famous, you don't have to sleep much, you might think, if you look at this trend: Leonardo da Vinci was said to have slept irregularly, but worked until he got tired. Then, no matter what time of day or night, he went to sleep for four hours. He then worked again until he got tired. He was not interested in whether and when da Vinci got tired. He went to sleep when the time came. And he worked until it was time. He does not seem to have had a pronounced day or night rhythm.

Ernest Hemingway, on the other hand, worked at a high desk, pen in one hand, drink in the other Hand, sleeping was out of the question. Victor Hugo, on the other hand, mostly wrote in his bedroom, occasionally his servant had to hide his clothes until he had finished his work. The billionaire and ShutterstockFounder Jon Oringer told me in an interview that he sleeps with his phone next to the bed and unfortunately needs 6 or 7 hours of sleep every night but is working on reducing it. And Marissa Mayer, ex-CEO at Yahoo, is said to get by with little sleep. As a former colleague says of Marissa Mayer:

“I met her once at dinner in New York; she was literally falling asleep in her soup. She said, 'Normally, I can get by on 4 hours of sleep a night, and I thought I could get by on 3. But I can't.' ”

How famous people sleep

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That People artificially reducing their sleep in order to appear to be able to do more, but is not a special feature of modernity: Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), founder of archeology and art history, read many old works in Greek, which he usually did until exactly midnight . Then he went to bed until four o'clock, after which he continued to read. It is reported that during the summer months he slept on a bench and tied a block of wood to his leg. If this block of wood was thrown off balance by Winckelmann's movements and thundered to the ground, Winckelmann was awake and continued to work. The classical philologist and archaeologist Friedrich August Wolf (1759-1824), who also inspired Goethe, only slept two nights a week for six months when he wanted to familiarize himself with a new topic. In order not to fall asleep, he sat barefoot in ice-cold water. Sometimes he glued himself in Eye to conserve it. On the other hand, the following quote from Winston Churchill has been handed down:

“Between lunch and dinner you have to sleep, and not by halves. Take off your clothes and go to bed - and don't think that you get less work done if you sleep during the day. That's a silly one Idea by people without imagination. You will accomplish even more.”

Permanently too little sleep is harmful to health

These numerous examples of prominent personalities show that the way people deal with sleep is as contradictory as the results of the various scientific analyzes: On the one hand, there is a certain consensus among scientists and health experts that a sleep schedule of less than seven hours has a rather harmful effect in the long run , So Prof. Dr. Dr. Angela Schuh, head of the medical climatology / health services research at spa medicine at the LMU Chair for Public Health and Health Services Research (IBE) and co-initiator of the study

“Good, restful sleep is essential for the functioning of the immune system, metabolism and hormones and has a major impact on the performance and well-being of the population. At the same time, epidemiological studies show that sleep disorders are among the most common complaints and symptoms that are associated with a variety of physical and mental health disorders. "

Everyone sleeps differently

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On the other hand, there is also research that concludes that intelligent people go to bed later than less intelligent people. In short: both the postponed bedtime and getting up early are celebrated. Of the Konflikt is obvious: On the one hand, everything speaks in favor of the fact that one should necessarily sleep at least seven hours a day as a prerequisite for a healthy, long life. At the same time, however, “active people” tend to go to bed late and be up on their feet before everyone else.

This apparent contradiction is explained Dr. med. Hans-Martin Beyer, Medical Director of the Enzensberg Medical Care Center in Hopfen am See and, as a sleep expert, also a member of the Network “Healthy sleep through inner Order” in Fussen:

How Chronobiology Works

“The autonomic nervous system and the “internal clock” work closely together. It seems that the vegetative or autonomic nervous system is the instrument for Implementation of the biological rhythms - the "internal clock" - is! The Sympathicus types tend to be early risers and otherwise very active. The Parasympathics types tend to be nocturnal and generally passive. Both types complement each other well, eg in relationships. However, it is also known that small children are extremely early risers, while adolescents tend to be owls. The young people are in their mid-20s Women tend to be early risers and the young men more active in the evenings. With increasing Age but the boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred. In any case, many people are mixed types, there is only a small percentage of rich owls or larks. However, if chronobiology is genetically determined: What adjustment screws can we then turn? It is interesting to see how chronobiology and the environment interact. It would actually be ideal if people could live and work according to their genetically determined rhythm. This is unfortunately in our modern work life often not possible, because Company set their own rhythm. Other exogenous factors are the hormones: adrenaline and noradrenaline are for example the hormones of the sympatheticus, especially when the adrenalinespiegel is too high, about through Stress or the constant blue light from LCD screens during (too much) computer work, it becomes difficult to sleep. I therefore recommend no more than 4 hours of computer work a day. It also helps to shape the daily rhythm in such a way that the body produces less adrenaline. Even extreme sunlight, for example at midday, promotes the adrenaline rush. The sympathetic types in particular therefore need a certain amount of Structure and lots of exercise too. For the parasympathetic types, rest and relaxation are more important. An owl is more likely to get going with speed exercises, while the lark is more for endurance sports. Studies have been conducted in which subjects were specifically deprived of sleep at night and only allowed them to sleep the next day. The adrenalinespiegel then did not sink any more and sleep was over clear less restful. That's that too Problem with jet lag: The body only slowly adapts to the new time, it usually takes 3-5 days. It is helpful, for example, to always keep to your own time, also when it comes to mealtimes, for example, because the digestion does not understand such shifts either. Now how can the adrenalinespiegel sink? For example, by a sleep stimulus such as cool water, and then we are in Kneipp hydrotherapy. It is important to be cool, not cold, because too strong a cold stimulus increases adrenalinespiegel only again. It is much better to lower the core temperature of the body in the alcohol range by rubbing off with a cold washcloth. Hydrotherapy also causes something else, namely hardening, i.e. adaptation to different climatic conditions. Since we usually stay in well-tempered rooms these days, our body has forgotten how to adapt to constant weather changes and we suffer accordingly. The hydrotherapy with its constant alternation between cold and warm can help to restore the natural adaptation, which is extremely important for the immune system and hormonal balance. Digestion also plays an important role in healthy sleep: Eating should actually be done by 19 p.m. or 20 p.m. at the latest. Raw food is also quite difficult to digest in the evening, it is better to combine it with some fat, for example. Everything with measure and Objective. Otherwise, vegetarian food is good in the evening. "

The 10 best facts and tips about sleep

But what is the best advice for getting better, healthier sleep? Does it help, for example, after the ChurchillMethod lie down at noon? Or a changing rhythm like Leonardo da Vinci? I don't know it. Still, I would like to give you a purely subjective selection what I consider to be the most interesting facts and best tips on the subject of sleep are not withheld.

  1. 7 hours of sleep are obviously optimal, not just for the heart.
  2. Immediately before important events such as exams you should sleep as much as possible.
  3. We should definitely sleep longer before making important decisions.
  4. The number of our friends obviously has an influence on the quality of our sleep. Early risers, as Sympaticus types, are generally more active than late risers
  5. Exercise: Those who exercise during the day and keep moving are better able to fall asleep. It's a truism, but exercise remains one of the most efficient sleep promoters.
  6. Not too high room temperature: The best place to sleep is at a maximum of 18 degrees. If it is too warm in the room, the sleep quality suffers immediately.
  7. Inner order: end the day. Postpone big problems that have not yet been resolved until tomorrow. To go offline!
  8. The smartphone and radio telephones should be kept as far away from the bed as possible - except temporarily if you use it to analyze your own sleep.
  9. Get up immediately when the alarm clock rings: That gets the adrenaline pumping.
  10. Keep a sleep diary and record exactly how you slept and what improvements certain aids have led to.


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