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Q: Famous 4-hour sleepers ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   8 Comments )
Subject: Famous 4-hour sleepers
Category: Health
Asked by: protonotary-ga
List Price: $12.00
Posted: 19 Apr 2002 19:40 PDT
Expires: 26 Apr 2002 19:40 PDT
Question ID: 2201
Name five famous people who are (or were) known for sleeping only four hours 
per day. Instances include Margaret Thatcher, Martha Stewart, and the entire 
research team of Thomas Edison.

Request for Question Clarification by researcher-ga on 20 Apr 2002 11:22 PDT
How would you define "known for"? Is it enough for them to claim that they do 
or did? Would they have to do it over a specific period of time (ie. their 
lifetime or just on occassion)? 

If you look at the Comments below, you'll notice beauwebmaster-ga listed 
several possible candidates to answer your question. But as googoogooa-ga 
states, these people "claim" to have slept less than four hours and that it is 
unhealthy (although it is not impossible) for them to have done so for any 
extended period of their lives.
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
Answered By: researcher-ga on 20 Apr 2002 18:28 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
While you have asked for five famous people that slept only four hours, there 
are several that either slept less than that or slightly more than that and 
they are included in this answer. It is hinted that some of these individuals 
may have napped heavily during their work days. Clinically it is not advised to 
sleep only four hours a night, but that does not mean individuals do/did not do 

1. Jay Leno – four hours
"He subsists on four hours' sleep per night. Out of fifty-two weeks, he gets 
four weeks off, during which time he is miserable. "I hate those weeks off," he 
tells me. "To me, a week's vacation just means you're now a week behind."

2. Madonna – four hours
"Madonna has revealed she only grabs four hours' sleep a night because she 
constantly worries about everything that is going on her life."

3. Florence Nightingale – four hours
"Florence Nightingale only slept four hours a night"

4. Anton Ballard – four hours
"Ballard keeps pushing himself to get better. He averages around four hours of 
sleep per night, and works about 12 hours each day between his meat counter and 
his studio."

5. Michelangelo – four hours
"Both aboriginal peoples and highly creative people (such as Thomas Edison and 
Michelangelo) rarely sleep for more than four hours at a time."

6. Napoleon Bonaparte – four hours
"Napoleon Bonaparte learned to live with the fact that he was only existing on 
three or four hours sleep a night and got on with his grand schemes."

7. Bill Clinton – five to six hours
"President Clinton grabs 5-6 hours"

8. Winston Churchill – six hours
"It was claimed he only spent 6 hours in bed every night. However, he wrote 
that one needs to take a complete nap every afternoon, to get fully undressed 
and really go to bed. No "halfway measures". He claimed the reward was to "get 
two days in one - well, at least one and a half, I'm sure." He claimed this nap 
was absolutely neccessary to cope with his responsibilities during the war. His 
naps were 1.5 to 2 hours long, for a total of about 8 hours a day!"

9. Nikola Tesla – two hours
"He is said, by some of his followers, to only have slept 2 hours a day. He was 
definitely a night owl. But his staff has told of him taking many naps during 
the day. And it seems he may have been narcoleptic, and able to sleep with his 
eyes open."

10. Leonardo Da Vinci – 15 mins every four hours (ie. 1.5 hours)
" It was said that he would sleep just 15 minutes of every four hours."

11. Margaret Thatcher – four hours
"Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister, was famous for getting by on 
only four hours a night."

12. Martha Stewart – four hours
"“There’s not enough time in the day,” complains the woman who says she needs 
no more than four hours’ sleep a night."

13. Thomas Edison – four hours
"Thomas Edison slept 3-4 hours at night, regarding sleep as a waste of time"

Beauwebmaster-ga mentions some of the above in the Comments below and may 
provide additional information on these individuals.

As Googoogooa-ga noted in the Comments, there is cause of concern when not 
sleeping as much as the body needs. Several studies show that sleeping too 
little or sleeping too much can develop into medical disorders.

A study done at the University of Chicago states " that healthy young adult 
males getting four hours of sleep for six consecutive nights showed medical 
disorders similar to those of senior citizens. 'We know that sleep deprivation 
does two things: It shortens your life and it slows you down mentally.'"

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas notes in it's 
Health Watch:
" As long as people got more than four hours of sleep a night, they didn't have 
an increased risk of dying. Oddly enough, people who slept more than eight 
hours a night had a slightly higher risk for death than those who got only 
seven hours of sleep a night. There was also an increased risk associated with 
using sleeping pills."

Also the McKinley Health Center has an article on "Insomnia and Other Related 
Sleep Problems:
"Requirements for sleep vary widely. Most adults need the traditional seven or 
eight hours of sleep a night, but some adults are "short sleepers" and function 
well on only three or four hours. Many people overestimate the amount of sleep 
they need and underestimate the amount they actually get during a restless 
night. Generally there is no need for concern, even if an unbroken night's 
sleep is rare. However if loss of sleep impairs a person's ability to function 
well during the day, it might indicate a problem."

Additional information:

National Sleep Foundation Resource for everything regarding sleep

NIH: National Center on Sleep Disorders Research

History of Insomnia

Search terms used:
sleep four hours famous
sleep problems OR disorders
protonotary-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Researcher-ga demonstrated a good comprehension of my requirements, documented 
his sources well, exceeded the number of cases I had hoped for and all in all 
comported himself professionally. I am left with good leads that I can now 
document more fully and critically to complete my research. I am pleased to pay 
as promised. A good job. Thank you.

Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: beauwebmaster-ga on 20 Apr 2002 00:27 PDT
Churchill slept 3 hours a day, leonardo De Vinci one quarter every for hours 
(it makes 1h30 a day), CF :

Thomas Edison slep three hours a day :,3523,985555-6132-0,00.html

And the last one ! Napoleon (four to five hours a day)!

We can find all thoses examples in lot's of website, and are together in the 
same page :

I applied to be a websearcher, I thing I can be very usefull (because right now 
nobody found any answers to this questions, and I could have found still more 
example people sleeping less than 4 hours a day, and chek thoses results).

I'd very like to become a web searcher. I remember that I'm French ! It can be 
usefull when french people will ask questions ;-)

ICQ : 66971708
Pseudo: beauwebmaster
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: beauwebmaster-ga on 20 Apr 2002 01:04 PDT
Oups I hadn't seen Thomas Edison was in the question, ... so I add another 
people sleeping only four hours a day :

Nikola Tesla (who sleep only 2 hours a day !!)
you can see that here :
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: beauwebmaster-ga on 20 Apr 2002 01:31 PDT
And the last one !
Andy a singer of valhere

ICQ: 66971708
pseudo: beauwebamster
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: googoogooa-ga on 20 Apr 2002 08:31 PDT
Actually, all of these responses are inaccurate --- they are *claims* to have 
slept this length in time. Therefore, the results are misleading.

The first cycle of a human being's sleep mode lasts 4 hours. To attempt to live 
on less is unadvisable --- human beings need sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to 
mental unhealthiness and at its most extreme, death.

"...Even attempting to reduce sleep for short periods of time has been proven, 
in carefully researched experiments, to reduce productivity and increase many 
negative and physiological problems such as depression. The reason seems to be 
that our biological clock is extremely resistant to attempts to change. Instead 
of cutting down on sleep to spend more time working, or with family and 
friends, work to improve your sleep hygiene. The pay off will be better 
performance and cheerfulness, and a better overall quality of life. Remember: 
If you are under stress, the last thing you want to do is to cheat yourself by 
loosing sleep."


To read the full details on claims, see:
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: voila-ga on 21 Apr 2002 14:10 PDT
Hi Proto,

Just to add a few famous/not-so-famous people who I found by entering 
{quotation marks}sleeps four hours a night{/quotation marks} on Google.  Guess 
these folks are only "rumored" to sleep this amount of time, but thought I'd 
include them for your research.

1.  Herb Kelleher/Southwest Airlines


To understand the essence of Southwest Airlines, you must first know that Herb 
Kelleher is a man of extreme tenacity and depthless energy. He ***sleeps four 
hours a night;*** he reads two or three books a week. The rest of the time, 
when he isn't lighting cigarettes, he is inhaling naphtha fumes and loving the 
high. "We tell our people all the time, 'You have to be ready for change.' In 
fact, sometimes only in change is there security," says Kelleher, leaning 
forward in his chair.

2.  Tom Ford/Fashion Designer


The ready-to-wear shows for next summer which opened this weekend will be a 
turning point for one of the most prestigious names in the fashion industry, 
Yves Saint Laurent. Next Friday, the 40-year-old Texan Tom Ford, who turned 
around the fortunes of Gucci, will send his first collection down the catwalk 
for the house, which is a byword for timeless elegance and luxury. While the 
reclusive founding designer has retained control over haute couture, ready-to-
wear, accessories and perfumes have all gone to Gucci, with Ford in charge of 
the overall creative image. What fashion editors are waiting to see with bated 
breath is how Ford will rise to the challenge of stepping into the shoes of a 
living legend. Will he do his own take on the house's signature -- a Ford 
version of Saint Laurent -- or will he turn his back on the past? Will he be 
able to remain true to the spirit of the house, or, as some fear, will it 
become indistinguishable from his designs for Gucci? A week ahead of the show, 
seating arrangements and even the venue were being treated like a state secret. 
Ford has also given little away of his intentions, although he told the 
respected Le Figaro in June that his idea of the Gucci woman was "a rockstar 
driving a Maserati, sexy and provocative" while the Saint Laurent woman "is a 
star in a chauffeur-driven limousine, a seductress who knows how to bide her 
time." There has already been one false dawn, with the Israeli-born Alber 
Elbaz, handpicked by Saint Laurent's righthand man, Pierre Berge, who lasted 
only three seasons before his departure last March. Ford, a workaholic who only 
***sleeps four hours a night,*** and Gucci's chief executive Dominico de Sole 
are confident that they can impose their winning formula on their new venture 
and bring the house back into profit by 2002. 

3.  Mariah Carey/Singer(?)


Carey, who reportedly only ***sleeps three hours a night*** (perhaps the sleep 
deprivation helped put her back into the hospital this week?), bristled when 
told Lopez gets a full eight hours. 

“If I had the luxury of not actually having to sing my own songs I'd do that 
too,” Carey said

4.  Donald Trump/Mogul (with way too much hair)


RS: What do you think of Donald Trump?

I like Trump. He is a very interesting man, in the sense that there is a 
mystery about him. You really don’t know who Donald Trump is. And he manages to 
get things done while dating at a rate that seems incompatible with work.

GT: He could be using Viagra.

I don’t know what he’s using. I just see him out on the town, and then he’s in 
Atlantic City, and he’s commenting on Buchanan, and he’s considering the Reform 
Party, and he’s running his businesses, and he only ***sleeps four hours*** a 
night he says, and he’s got the five or six wives he’s shuttling around. It is 
an amazing thing. He is the greatest juggler.

5.  Yasser Arafat/Palestinian Leader

The secret weapon MSNBC’s Ashleigh Banfield uses when in Pakistan or Iran: 
She’s "very quick to point out" that she’s not a U.S. citizen but is Canadian. 
With that known, "I tend to get a warmer reception," she boasted to David 
Letterman. Plus, she gushed about Yasser Arafat's his stamina, marveling at how 
he supposedly works until 3am as he ***"sleeps about two or three hours a 


I used the additional phrases "sleeps three hours a night," "sleeps two hours a 
night," and "sleeps one hour a night."  For this last parameter, I only came up 
with the name Tyler Durden of "Fight Club" and, well, we all know what happened 
to him.

You might also want to incorporate this recent story from the L.A. Times.

A Pill to Stretch Your Day 

A new drug keeps people awake with no apparent ill effects. But is prescribing 
it the right thing to do? 

Special to The Times 

April 15 2002 

It has become a modern cliche: There aren't enough hours in the day. Americans 
are struggling to balance work and family commitments while trying to find time 
for a social life and recreation. A growing number of supermarkets, 
restaurants, gyms and other businesses are accommodating today's 24/7 culture 
by staying open all night. Not to mention, of course, that the Internet never 
shuts down. But what if you could do the same? 

The complete article can be viewed at: 

This was a very interesting assignment and good luck with your research.  Now 
get some sleep!
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: protonotary-ga on 21 Apr 2002 16:59 PDT
As the original questioner on the four-hour sleep topic I wish to extend warm thanks to my three commentators:  Beauwebmaster je voudrais vous donner un "chapeau" pour les nouveaux renseignements; to Voila, thank you for some great new living models of the four-hour sleep; and to Googoogooa, please don't allow your intelligence to short-circuit a possible leap of understanding that could change your opinion on the viability of the four-hour sleeper.

I am a long-time student of the fur trade of early Canada under the legendary North West Company of Montreal (1784-1821). During all of that adventurous period in the history of British North America, the gentlemen and voyageurs of the company proved themselves "the lords of the lakes and forests" while constantly working on (dare I say it) four hours of sleep, this according to an in-depth reading of the daily journals of the men of the North West Company (later the Hudson's Bay Company.)

Please carry on your welcome comments and help me paddle swiftly on my way into parts unknown...

David G Anderson (protonotary)
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: starmanz-ga on 22 Apr 2002 05:56 PDT
I believe Mark H McCormack, Chairman and CEO of IMG, The International 
Management Group (sports sponsorship, sports, musician, personality and model 
agency, event organiser) sleeps for a maximum of 4 hours per night. He breaks 
his day up with 30 min power naps. I should know, I worked for his company for 
10 years!! MHM (a lawyer by profession) was the World's first Sports agent, 
signing the golfer Arnold Palmer in the 1950s. He is recognised by many as the 
founding father of sports marketing.
Subject: Re: Famous 4-hour sleepers
From: chcusa-ga on 24 Jul 2003 07:57 PDT
I heard Sean "P. Diddy" Combs say in a recent interview that he sleeps
four hours a night. It seems to be common among driven/ambitious
people. More reearch on this, and it's potential effects on health
would be very interesting.

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