The Blog - Where Business Collides with Human Nature

Entrepreneurs Doing All-Nighters Get High

brain gets high

The Journal of Neuroscience shared findings in a recent study which underscores the need for people seeking business success in high-stakes professions and circumstances not to shortchange themselves on sleep.

“When functioning correctly, the brain finds the sweet spot on the mood spectrum. But the sleep-deprived brain will swing to both extremes, neither of which is optimal for making wise decisions,” says Matthew Walker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley and lead author of the study.

The Journal of Neuroscience says:  "Appropriate interpretation of pleasurable, rewarding experiences favors decisions that enhance survival."  What I gather from this is that sleep deprivation makes a person temporarily feel good.

Business success for an entrepreneur is bound to have late nights, chocolate, coffee, strong tea and now the stronger caffeinated drinks such as Jolt which has double the amount of caffeine than a cup of coffee.  (The Late Night Entrepreneur's Favorite High Caffeine Drinks Here)

If lack of logic is the symptom along with an "anything goes" attitude and a false sense of business success; it becomes very apparent that late nights can cause an entrepreneur to have a pretense of success.

How can an entrepreneur hope to overcome the problems at hand and create success if not by burning the candle at both ends?  During the day there is no end to the requests, the interruptions, and the unexpected emergencies which demand attention. Night time is peaceful and while many are watching the TV or sleeping, much can get done.

The reason for all-nighters is to move faster and farther since entrepreneurs tackle goals and projects beyond the scope of their ability.  It is believed that the solution lies in working harder to learn and apply the necessary knowledge.  Uphill growth is expected.  "Persistence Pays" is the motto and "Stay out of my way" the warning to others who begin to question the sanity of an idea.  This is especially true for writers, bloggers, and Internet marketers who rely not so much on the physical world.

"There two types of people in Frank Herbert's life.  Those who were in the way of his writing and those who were out of his way," says the family of the acclaimed author of Dune and many other books. 

The study at the Journal of Neuroscience explains why an entrepreneur will have wild and crazy ideas which don't make sense to the rest of the world who did have a good night of sleep.  During the moments of "sleep-deprived high", a new "million dollar idea" strikes and becomes a new focal point.  (Or obsession?)

"While a short-term boost in dopamine levels may seem advantageous, it can be detrimental if people are making impulsive decisions because they’re feeling overly optimistic", Walker says.

Co-authors of the study include researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Chicago.  More news from UC Berkeley: and from

Lesson to learn from the study:

  • For all great ideas, "sleep on it".
  • Use the TheBrain to brainstorm and map out ideas.
  • Early to rise will usually mean "early to bed". 
  • First Things First by Stephen Covey offers a simple and effective method to organize time into four quadrants.  This has been beneficial to many entrepreneurs who are constantly on the go.

Common sense tells us to "get a good night of sleep" as do the doctors.  Knowing from scientific tests that all-nighters can be detrimental and counterproductive to success, is that enough to change behavior?

Topics: Business Success Tips Entrepreneur Personal Development