Jeff Bezos and Arianna Huffington had brilliant ideas that turned into household names: Amazon and HuffPost. Perhaps the secret ingredient to finding these ideas is something we can all tap into: a good night’s sleep. This is revealed by a study published in the Journal of Business Venturing.
According to this new study, sleep plays a particularly important role not only in identifying a good business idea, but also in its evaluation and viability. “Entrepreneurs who consistently choose restlessness over sleep, thinking that sleep comes after success, may be undoing their efforts to succeed,” according to lead author Jeff Gish, assistant professor of business. at the University of Central Florida. “Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, but it’s especially important for entrepreneurs,” he adds.
Sleep, the key to good performance at work
Several studies have linked sleep to work performance. Both Bezos and Huffington have indicated that they sleep a lot in various media interviews. But the new study found a link between sleep and the cognitive skills needed to identify and evaluate an idea. Entrepreneurs use their business experience and knowledge to evaluate ideas that could turn into successful business ventures. But sleep also seems to be an important factor.
Study of more than 700 entrepreneurs
The study surveyed more than 700 entrepreneurs from around the world. The questions focused on sleep habits, hours of sleep and types of sleep. Business pitches were written and an independent panel of business experts reviewed and ranked the pitches as having the greatest potential, average potential and the lowest potential for success. Then, study participants reviewed all three locations on the same day. The leaders who had slept less did not always choose the best locations.
In the second part of the study, a smaller group of participants rated locations over several weeks while noting their sleep patterns. Participants who slept at least seven hours a night consistently chose the best locations identified by the panel of experts. Those who slept less or slept less well did not always choose the best locations.
“Evidence suggests that less sleep leads to less accurate beliefs about the commercial potential of a new business idea,” says Prof. Gish. “Since we compared individual performance over multiple days, we can say that these results are consistent even for entrepreneurs who sleep less on average than the general population,” he says.
J-Jeffrey Gish: Sleep and entrepreneurs’ abilities to imagine and form initial beliefs about new venture ideas. Journal of Business Ventures. doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2019.06.004