High-functioning 'short sleepers' make good entrepreneurs(Read article summary)
Up to three percent of the population needs fewer than six hours of sleep each night to function well. Being highly productive and having plenty of time are advantages for an entrepreneur.
Photo illustration/Ron Nickel/Design Pics/Newscom
The Wall Street Journalâ€™s Melinda Black has an interesting piece in todayâ€™s edition entitled â€śThe Sleepless Elite.â€ť One to three percent of the population require less than six hours of sleep to function well. In fact, she points out that not only do these short sleepers function, but they are upbeat, tend to be thin and energetic.
Short sleeper go all out, all the time. â€śThese people talk fast. They never stop. Theyâ€™re always on the up side of life,â€ť says Daniel J. Buysse, a psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a professional group.
â€śBenjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Leonardo da Vinci were too busy to sleep much, according to historical accounts. Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison came close but they were also fond of taking naps, which may disqualify them as true short sleepers,â€ť writes Black.
The short sleeper I knew was the late Ronald Yanke, who died a few years ago at age 68. Yanke was tall and thin, and constantly in motion. He could barely sit through a two-hour board meeting. Like the short sleepers Black mentions, Yanke was constantly upbeat and a serial entrepreneur. One of the three original investors in Micron Technology, Yanke owned two sawmills in Montana, a charter air service company, and a company that manufacturers firefighting equipment. He was also a rancher and owned vast amounts of timberland in the western United States as well as owning and developing a number of other real estate projects. Yanke also held significant ownership interests in a mechanical contracting firm, a manufactured housing firm and two banks.
His friend Jim Nelson said at Yankeâ€™s funeral that Ron was the â€śhardest worker anyone had ever seen,â€ť and â€śthe hardest player anyone had ever seen.â€ť
Another friend Tom Nickolson said Yankeâ€™s only speed was peddle to the metal. Black explains that short sleepers â€śhave a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.â€ť An especially good trait for entrepreneurs to have. â€śThey encounter obstacles, they just pick themselves up and try again,â€ť says Christopher Jones, a University of Utah neurologist and sleep scientist. I remember Ron Yanke saying â€śletâ€™s do something, even if itâ€™s wrong.â€ť
For now, us normal sleepers canâ€™t train ourselves to sleep less, but scientists are working on it. Human geneticist Ying-Hui Fu at the University of California-San Francisco says, â€śEverybody can use more waking hours, even if you just watch movies.â€ť
Ron Yanke had better things to do than watch movies.
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