The Ideal Sleep: How Many Hours Do You Need?

Weigh in on the ever popular need to boast of little sleep and high ambition.

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When did the need for little sleep become a trademark attribute of go-getters?

Among those who reportedly get about four hours a night: Martha Stewart, Kathie Lee Gifford, Eric Johnson, Chris Hyman, Rudy Giuliani, French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand, Kim Jong Il, and Donald Trump.

The New York Times has called this "competitive waking." Canadian inspirational speaker and writer Azim Jamal reportedly slices his week into precise wedges—45 hours for sleep, 60 hours for work, 21 hours for family, "seven for meditation, seven for family finance, seven for volunteering, and four for exercise. Seventeen hours a week are 'flex time,' " the Globe and Mail reported in 2005.

I must admit, I'm largely skeptical of people who claim to need so little sleep, particularly when it's so often a source of pride. Also: Is it really a relevant boast when we talk about ambition and success? (Full disclosure: I get between 7 and 7 1/2 hours most nights, and it never feels like enough.)

I'll be reporting more on this topic in the near future. For now, I'm hoping you'll share your own sleep schedule in the comments—and tell us whether you think it's related to your level of ambition.

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