How Much Sleep Do Engineers and Entrepreneurs Really Need?

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Sleep Public Domain Image

The rumor around the Notre Dame campus is that the couches at Innovation Park make great beds. While in other locales, falling asleep in such a place might cause you to receive a visit from security, in the academic setting, nodding off in strange places seems par for the course.

Overworked and hard-studying students and faculty can only drink so much coffee or Red Bull before they finally have to close their eyes and receive a visit from The Sandman.

A while back, on their Voice of the Engineer blog, the EDN Network asked its readers how much sleep they needed to be “at the top of their game,” referencing the Seinfeld episode where Kramer tries to copy Leonardo Da Vinci’s rumored sleeping habit of nodding off for twenty minutes every three hours, which, if you’ve seen the episode, doesn’t end particularly well.

Most of the commenters seemed to come in around the 7 to 8 hours range while one claimed, sardonically perhaps, that he needed over ten hours. Others came in on the low end, like one anonymous commenter who said…

“Five hours a night. In large part due to a hectic work schedule that but also due to the fact that I don't enjoy sleeping as much as I do fixing things... Sleep is over-rated!”

Is sleeping really overrated, though? Aren’t we more apt to be “at the top of our game” should we get a quality night’s sleep? Is that the issue then? Quality over quantity?

One could argue that, as the quality of one’s sleep increases, so does the quality of their work. One doesn’t have to look very far to find examples of people, at least in other fields, who have made costly, sometimes even deadly mistakes, due to being tired or sleep deprived.

Have you ever made mistakes in your academic or professional life due to the fact that you weren’t getting enough sleep? How important is a good night’s sleep as an engineer or entrepreneur? How much sleep do you get?

Oh, and get a little extra rest over break, folks. See you in January!