Bill Gates recently revealed that he would sleep as little as possible during his prime years at Microsoft because he believed it was lazy and “unnecessary”. The billionaire admitted to skimping on sleep while discussing brain health during a podcast with Seth Rogan and his wife Lauren Miller Rogan.
“In my 30s and 40s when there would be a conversation about sleep, it would be like: ‘Oh I only sleep six hours, and the other guys like: ‘No I only sleep five’ and ‘Well sometimes I don’t sleep at all,’ and I’d be like: ‘Wow those guys are so good. I have to try harder because sleep is laziness and unnecessary,” the Microsoft co-founder said during the first episode of ‘Unconfuse Me’.
However, since Mr Gates’ father died in 2020 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, the billionaire said he has changed his opinion about sleep and even started tracking his daily “sleep score,” which monitors the length and quality of sleep.
“Now what we know is that to maintain brain health, getting good sleep even back to teen years is super important,” Mr Gates said. “One of the most predictive factors of any dementia, including Alzheimer’s, is whether you’re getting good sleep,” he added.
To this, Mr Rogan agreed and recalled that “when I was young, the convention was ‘you’ll sleep when you’re dead'”. The shift in cultural attitudes towards sleeping has shifted similarly to attitudes towards smoking cigarettes, he explained.
“They used to think smoking is healthy. It is similar. That’s where we are culturally – the things people think and understand about their own brains are where they were in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s so far off from what actual science is reflective of,” the podcast host said.
Further, Mr Gates revealed that he has taken tips from a book called ‘Why We Sleep’ by neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker, which he reviewed in his blog ‘Gates Notes’ in 2019. “I felt that sleeping a lot was lazy,” he wrote in the review.
“I knew I wasn’t as sharp when I was operating mostly on caffeine and adrenaline, but I was obsessed with my work, and I felt that sleeping a lot was lazy,” he said.
Mr Gates now aims to get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night, the billionaire revealed.
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