ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s a popular notion these days that in order to succeed in life and business one must work as much as possible and put in extra time to achieve their goals. There are countless social media pages across platforms like Facebook and Instagram posting daily updates encouraging followers to “rise and grind” or “outwork everyone else.” While it’s certainly true that most folks never made their dreams come true by sitting on the couch, an interesting new study out of the University of Central Florida is asserting that when it comes to finding success as an entrepreneur, sleep may be among the most important factors.
“Entrepreneurs who consistently choose hustle over sleep, thinking that sleep comes after success, may be subverting their efforts to succeed,” explains lead author Jeff Gish in a release. “Everyone needs a good night of sleep, but it is especially important for entrepreneurs.”
According to Gish and his team, sleep is essential for identifying, evaluating, and believing in new entrepreneurial ideas.
Numerous previous studies have already found a connection between a good night’s sleep and improved performance on the job, but this new study is the first ever to establish a link between sleep and the mental skills needed to identify and examine new entrepreneurial ideas.
Of course, simply being well rested isn’t going to turn just anybody into the next Jeff Bezos, but besides experience and a sharp business sense, researchers say sleep is an essential ingredient to entrepreneurial success.
For the study, 700 entrepreneurs from all over the world were surveyed. Each participant was asked about their regular sleep habits, patterns, and average time spent sleeping per 24 hours. Simultaneously, researchers compiled a list of three business pitches that were then given to a panel of experienced business experts to review and rank based on which offered the most potential.
Once the panel of experts agreed on which pitches were the best, the same ideas were given to each study participant to evaluate and rank. The results indicated that entrepreneurs who were getting more regular sleep each night picked out the strongest business ideas much more consistently than participants who weren’t sleeping as much.
There was also a second experiment conducted for the study, in which a smaller group of participants evaluated the same list of three pitches over the course of several weeks while simultaneously keeping track of their sleep patterns. Afterwards, the results showed that participants who enjoyed at least seven hours of sleep each night almost always picked out the strongest business ideas. Conversely, those who were getting less sleep did not choose the best business pitches as consistently.
“The evidence suggests that less sleep leads to less accurate beliefs about the commercial potential of a new venture idea,” Gish says. “Since we compared individual performance over multiple days, we can say that these results are consistent even for entrepreneurs who don’t sleep as much on average as the general population.”
The study is published in the Journal of Business Venturing.