Your Boss Is Probably Getting More Sleep Than You Are, Survey Says. Here’s Who Catches More Z’s Than Even CEOs, Managers, And Business Owners

Fortune Well April 13, 2024


Your Boss Is Probably Getting More Sleep Than You Are, Survey Says. Here’s Who Catches More Z’s Than Even CEOs, Managers, And Business Owners

Being a chief executive officer comes with myriad benefits, such as a sizable base salary, travel perks, and…more sleep? CEOs are happier with the amount of sleep they get each night than directors, managers, employees in nonmanagerial positions, and even business owners, according to a new survey.

Consumer product testing company Expert Reviews joined forces with market research firm YouGov to survey nearly 4,300 adults throughout the U.K. in November 2023. The results of the inaugural Expert Reviews Sleep Survey were published last month.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed with the statement “I get enough sleep.” Chairpersons were the only senior staffers to agree in a larger proportion than CEOs:

  • Chairperson: 100%
  • Chief executive: 77%
  • Director: 51%
  • Owner: 45%
  • Manager: 40%
  • No management responsibility: 38%

“If you’re somebody who’s tired no matter how much sleep you get, then you want to measure your sleep with a sleep test,” Dr. Rafael Pelayo, a clinical professor in the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, tells Fortune. “However, most people don’t have sleep disorders that way, they just have lifestyles that don’t give them enough hours of sleep.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least seven hours of sleep nightly for adults ages 18–60. Those 61–64 should get seven to nine hours, while those 65 and older should get seven to eight hours. Roughly one-third of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep, 2022 CDC data show.

Chairpersons were most likely to report getting at least seven hours of sleep each night:

  • Chairperson: 77%
  • Chief executive: 70%
  • Director: 66%
  • Owner: 60%
  • Manager: 57%
  • No management responsibility: 51%

While not a scientific study, the Expert Reviews Sleep Survey claims to dispel the stereotype that CEOs thrive on a few hours’ sleep. Yet the tide may already have been turning; a 2022 poll of Fortune 500 CEOs revealed these business leaders sleep an average of 6.3 hours a night.

Job seniority also correlates to sleep quality, according to the published Expert Reviews survey and additional data the company provided to Fortune. The following percentages of employees ranked their quality of sleep “good” or “excellent”:

  • Chairperson: 82%
  • Chief executive: 74%
  • Director: 58%
  • Manager: 39%
  • Owner: 35%
  • No management responsibility: 34%

 Exhausted senior businesswoman fall asleep at workplace

Nearly half of CEOs nap often

In addition to getting plenty of sleep at night, CEOs were the most likely to report napping “fairly often” or “very often”:

  • Chief executive: 48%
  • Chairperson: 41%
  • Director: 24%
  • No management responsibility: 12%
  • Owner: 10%
  • Manager: 9%

Naps can be good or bad, says Michael Grandner, Ph.D., director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson.  

“A nap taken in order to boost energy and productivity can be a very effective way to reduce fatigue and improve mental and physical performance,” Grandner tells Fortune via email. “On the other hand, naps taken because people can't stay awake suggests that there may be some deficiency with their sleep.”

Expert Reviews didn’t indicate what time of day respondents said they tend to nap. Another recent sleep survey, conducted by sleep wellness company Sleep Doctor and Pollfish, found that 46% of U.S. workers nap during the workday at least a few times a year.

Gen Z, millennials lose most sleep over work stress

While not all results from the Expert Reviews survey were stratified by job seniority, at least 40% of respondents in each age group reported that their work life interfered with their sleep hygiene. Adults 18 and older were asked whether they agreed with the statement “My job impacts my sleep quality”:

  • 18–24: 70%
  • 25–34: 57%
  • 35–44: 54%
  • 45–54: 50%
  • 55+: 42%

Stressed-out employees should try structuring their nights as they do their workdays to bring a sense of calm into their bedtime routines, says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the founder of Sleep Doctor, who wasn’t involved in the Expert Reviews survey.

“What we’ve got to do in society is teach people how to reduce their stress in a healthy and effective way,” Breus tells Fortune. “Like exercise, sports, a book club, yoga, stretching—I don’t care what it is that helps you out, as long as it doesn’t affect your sleep detrimentally.”

Breus adds, “Everybody has really highly structured daytime. Very few people have structured nights.”

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