The very public discussion between sleep guru Arianna Huffington and Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the benefits of rest is about getting plenty more Z & # 39; s. It speaks to the broader battle in Silicon Valley – and beyond – to achieve a healthy balance between work and private life.
To repeat their conversation, Musk mentioned last week in an emotional interview with the New York Times during the past 12 months – the most difficult and painful year. of his career. He admitted that he has great problems with refueling and charging, does not spend enough time with his family and takes Ambien to help him sleep.
Huffington, who leads Wellness Startup Thrive Global, published an open letter urging him to ease the 120-hour working weeks and stop sleeping at the Tesla plant. In the small hours on Sunday, Musk twittered back: "You think this is an option, it is not."
She refused to let him stop. In a statement she said that the nation's work culture deceives people to believe that burning is the price of success. "As all recent scientific findings show, the opposite is true," she wrote.
She is not wrong.
Studies show a definitive relationship between getting enough sleep and being an effective leader. Research from the management consultancy firm McKinsey shows a strong correlation between the amount of residual drivers and both their leadership performance and the organizational health of a company. Research from the Harvard Medical School shows that a lack of sleep leads to increased emotional reactivity and that stress negatively affects the quality of sleep.
Jeff Bezos, & # 39; the world's richest person and one of & # 39; the world's leading CEO, has said he makes shuteye every night for eight hours. "If you do not sleep well, you might get a few extra" productive "hours, but productivity could be an illusion," he told Thrive Global in an interview in 2016.
Of course this is not really about how much time Musk or Bezos or someone else sleeps. It's about the go-go-go-pace that too many managers and entrepreneurs impose on themselves.
Related: Arianna does not let Elon Musk get off the hook
"Sleep is a proxy for a bigger discussion, which is about exhaustion," said Jerry Colonna, a former venture capitalist who became "CEO coach" and founder of Reboot, a life-coaching company that works with hundreds of tech companies including Lyft, SoundCloud and Etsy.
"Investors thrive on entrepreneurs who process themselves dead – and I do not speak metaphorically," he added. "I'm not joking when I say people are sitting and talking about how they will sleep when they are dead."
Basing on medical assistance sleep is a disturbing and not unusual trend.
& # 39; Ambien or weed, & # 39; said Colonna. "They are so much of the day that they can not come down."
The tech sector tends to attract people who are prone to hard work. While some people can let themselves rest after sprinting, others can go through periods of great stress without taking care of themselves. Colonna said that high levels of stress often offer people a degree of validation, but can mask deeper problems such as bipolar disorder.
"Understand that the industry thrives on people who are committed to depleting themselves," added Colonna. He said that he would ask everyone who thinks it necessary to work ruthlessly to ask himself a few questions: what are you hunting? Where are you running from? What would happen if you did not reach what you think you are achieving?
Related: Depression in the C-suite
All this talk about sleep could make you think that it is going to be a matter of eight hours and everything will be fine. Not so, said Diana Chapman, co-founder of The Conscious Leadership Group, who has worked with entrepreneurs like Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and Asana.
"I do not go in the hours because it is debatable and everyone is different," she said. "But if you are honest, do you feel rested?"
The challenge, she said, is to overcome the threats and fears – real or perceived – that get people to work on exhaustion themselves. Some entrepreneurs, she said, worry that they are the threats and fears that keep them productive. It is much better, she said, to be driven by a real love for the work. "You would find motivation for a real passion," she said, she says.
Lack of sleep, poor eating habits and inadequate physical activity are "a terrible recipe for a burnout," she said. Getting enough rest and leading a healthy lifestyle contributes to something that they & # 39; the power of body intelligence & # 39; calls.
"Your instinct is a big part of how you make decisions and when you are tired, have access to you [body intelligence] is really difficult, "said Chapman.
All this underlines the point that Huffington and those who share her opinion make. People "simply do not understand the diminishing returns from overtime," says Phil Wickham, an experienced venture capitalist who has been working with Chapman for many years.
"Sleep is the neglected stepchild of health problems," said Wickham, who participates in a medical study in which sleep is a part. He has meticulously assessed his own sleeping pattern, and said that it has been recalibrated is the approach to life. He started prioritizing peace, exercise and good food. Those things come first and work comes in second place. He said it made a positive difference, and he suggests that others do the same.
CNNMoney (New York) First published on August 22, 2018: 15:59 ET