“Why is sleep so hard?! Perhaps we will never know.” With those words tweeted out to the world, Elon Musk asked the question that many of us have screamed into our pillows at one time or another. While Musk posed the question with a cartoon that shows a character glued to its screens, there may be more to it than that for some of us.
According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 87 percent of Americans have come up short on their forty winks worrying about money and finances. Whereas the most recent survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report revealed that sleep is so hard because 41 percent of us are stressing over inflation, 22 percent are worrying about climate change, and just as many are ruminating about the goings on in Eastern Europe when they should be snoozing.
And while that’s plenty for the average Joe, we suspect that Musk has considerably more on his mind — what with space exploration, electric vehicles, and providing a social media platform that supports free speech and all. It appears that heavy lies the crown for one of the richest men in the world.
How Does Elon Musk Sleep?
Interestingly, Musk doesn’t leave us in the dark. In fact, over the years, he’s been quite transparent about his sleep health and sleep hygiene.
When he first took over Twitter at age 51, Musk no doubt flabbergasted sleep scientists everywhere when he revealed he sometimes slept at Twitter headquarters. While most of us indulge in luxuries like beds and fluffy blankets, Musk told BBCNews that he sleeps “on a couch in a library.” And while that’s enough to raise an eyebrow, “drive-by” sleep habits seem commonplace for the billionaire.
In 2018, Musk revealed that he often slept at Tesla headquarters — on a bench — in a conference room. News of Musk’s stark sleep habits was so concerning that a fan started a GoFundMe account, aptly calling the campaign “Buy Elon Musk a Couch.”
It seems 2018 was the year of sleep revelations for Musk. In an interview with The New York Times, he revealed that he worked as much as 120 hours per week, leaving precious little time for sleep, and when he did, he relied on a popular sleep aid to help him.
What Keeps Elon Musk Up at Night?
In terms of what keeps him up at night, the magnate told Joe Rogan that “it’s quite hard to run companies.” And while we may think that Space X would top his list of sleep stealers, Musk says it’s Tesla that challenges him the most and keeps him up at night. Of course, he adds that space exploration “is no walk in the park,” but being one of only two car companies in history not to go bankrupt takes its toll in many ways — losing sleep is only a part of the equation for him.
Besides his own business endeavors and workload, we have concrete evidence that the thing Musk loses the most sleep over is none of the above. It’s AI — ChatGPT Anyone?
In a recent Twitter exchange, a Tesla influencer asked Musk the following question:
In no uncertain terms, Musk simply replied, “Yes.”
Sleep Tips from Elon and the Twittersphere
While Elon may struggle with sleep, it looks like he’s pretty hip to the basics of sleep hygiene. In another appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, Musk doles out some pretty good advice.
Not only does Musk say that “eating before you go to bed is a [real] bad idea and […] negatively affects your sleep,” he adds that “drinking and then going to sleep, [is] one of the worst things you could do.”
Musk may understand the basics of sleep hygiene, but when you throw a question like “Why is sleep so hard” out on Twitter, facetious or not, you’re going to get answers.
While some folks like @sibeleth pointed the finger back at Musk, with answers like, “Because you made Twitter a better place, and I spent 67 hours in the last 10 days here,” and @jborg_arts similarly said, “We are addicted to micro-dosing dopamine through our screens.”
Many offered real answers and real advice.
Likewise, @GemWings said, “The reasons can be complex and vary from person to person. Factors like stress, anxiety, poor habits, medical conditions, and lifestyle can make it difficult. While it can feel mysterious, seeking solutions like a bedtime routine and calming environment. Don’t give up!”
And finally, @itsMalma suggests “phone in diff room than bed, no caffeine at all, daily exercise, change foods you eat.”
Looks like the Twittersphere has got it covered.
Musk Woke Up To His Bad Sleep Habits
Worrying about things you can’t (and things that you can) control is one thing, but sleep hygiene is a whole other ballgame. And it looks like Musk has come a long way since his days of sleeping at Tesla HQ.
Turning the page on his sleep hygiene, Musk told CNBC that the sun has set on his days of working more and sleeping less. Last year, Musk described himself as “fairly nocturnal,” but in a more recent interview with CNBC, Musk said his habit of pulling all-nighters and sleeping under his desk is gone. Now, his goal is to get at least six hours of sleep per night.
Jackson, Ashton. “Elon Musk says he’s upped his sleep to 6 hours per night—and that his old routine hurt his brain,” CNBC.com. May 18, 2024.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Financial and health-related worries keeping Americans up at night, survey shows,” https://aasm.org/financial-and-health-related-worries-keeping-americans-up-at-night-survey-shows.
Black, Lewis. “U.S. News & World Report Sleep Quality Survey 2022,” https://www.usnews.com/360-reviews/sleep/americans-sleep-quality-habits-survey. August 9, 2022.
Clayton, James. “Elon Musk BBC interview: Twitter boss on layoffs, misinfo and sleeping in the office,” BBC. April 12, 2024.
Gelles, David; Stewart, James B.; Silver-Greenberg, Jessica; Kelly, Kate. “Elon Musk Details ‘Excruciating’ Personal Toll of Tesla Turmoil,” New York Times. August 16, 2018.