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Sleeping Like a Genius

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Sleeping Like a Genius

Historically Famous Sleep Patterns and Getting the Sleep You Need

Getting the proper amount of sleep can seem like a daunting task. Calculating how many hours you can squeeze in if you watch one more episode, or setting a timer for a nap on your lunch break are just a few ways we try to wrap our sleep patterns around our busy lives. It doesn’t exactly take a genius to adjust a sleep schedule, but it might just take one to figure out the right sleep schedule for you.

Here are a few sleeping patterns from historically famous geniuses to give you some ideas on how different sleeping patterns may work.

Albert Einstein, a household name that has inspired many a crazy hair day and who is most famous for his theory of General Relativity, was a huge fan of catching some Z’s. He would sleep an average of 10 hours a night as well as taking daytime naps.

One of the most famous inventors on our planet, Nikola Tesla, was quite the opposite of Einstein. He slept only a couple of hours a night and compensated for his lack of sleep with power naps throughout the day. Power naps are short periods of sleep taken in order to restore mental alertness and ward off sleepiness.

Another genius who utilized napping during the day was Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci created what is called the polyphasic sleep process, or, the Da Vinci Sleep Schedule. This process entails 20-minute power naps throughout an entire 24-hour period. This results in about 5 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Both Da Vinci and Tesla were opposed to the idea that sleep was important to their health and instead viewed it as an adversary to their productivity. In short, they believed sleep was a waste of time and they were not alone in this thinking. Thomas Edison, whom we can thank for the invention of the lightbulb, also practiced the polyphasic sleep process. He wanted to minimize his time spent resting as much as possible.

Though napping helped these geniuses get through the day, power naps are mostly used as a supplement to a regular sleep cycle. Getting enough sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy.

So how much sleep do you need?

According to the American Sleep Association, “the amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factor[s.] Infants generally require about 16 hours a day, while teenagers need about 9 hours on average. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days. Getting too little sleep creates a ‘sleep debt,’ which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid (American Sleep Association).”

Why do you need sleep?

Sleep is necessary to survival, it keeps the nervous system functioning and keeps us growing both physically and mentally. Lack of sleep leaves us drowsy and impaired, unable to make the best cognitive decisions and in extreme cases can lead to illness, hallucinations, mood swings and a plethora of other health complications.

In conclusion, we may not all get 10-hours of sleep like Einstein, or detest sleep like Thomas Edison, but with the right knowledge, we can become sleep geniuses, knowing what works for us individually, how to maximize our rest and keep both our minds and bodies in good health.

The Sleep Center at Campbell County Health is designed to monitor and evaluate people during sleep, providing information for physicians to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Our technologists observe and record sleep patterns, heart and respiratory activity, and body movements in an adjacent monitoring room while patients sleep in quiet, comfortable, hotel-like rooms. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively once they have been accurately diagnosed.

The Sleep Center is under the medical direction of Pulmonologist Dr. Michael S. Nolledo, It is open seven nights per week and daytime availability for night shift workers for patient convenience. The Sleep Center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), and operated according to American Academy of Sleep Medicine standards. Talk to your healthcare provider about a referral to the Sleep Center, or call 307-688-2350 for more information.


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Advisor, Sleep. “Sleep Habits of the Greatest Geniuses Revealed (Einstein, Churchill).” Sleep Advisor, 8 June 2021, Accessed 5 Aug. 2022.

American Sleep Association. “What Is Sleep? Why Is It Needed? – American Sleep Association.” American Sleep Association, 4 Mar. 2018, What is Sleep & Why is It Important for Health? | American Sleep Association.
  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine