More Sleep, Better Decision-Making

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A recent series of studies suggest well-rested entrepreneurs analyze venture executive summaries better than those who sleep less

Entrepreneurs are notorious for burning the midnight oil to get their fledgling businesses off the ground.

However, a series of studies by Jeffry Gish, assistant professor of management at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, and Christopher Barnes, associate professor of management at the University of Washington in Seattle, show that entrepreneurs who don’t get enough rest analyze business opportunities differently than their well-rested counterparts.

In one of the studies, published in the November issue of the Journal of Business Venturing, entrepreneurs were asked to evaluate venture executive summaries. Two were more promising for commercial success and one had structural problems and was less promising, according to an article the researchers wrote for the Harvard Business Review on Oct. 2.

“Compared to well-rested entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who slept less the previous night frequently ranked the ill-conceived idea above one or both of the other two ideas,” they wrote. “This suggests that entrepreneurs who are short on sleep rely more on superficial cues when forming initial beliefs about new venture ideas.”

The researchers conducted two additional studies, which supported the conclusion that people who sleep less struggle to make good business decisions.

“Far from being a sign of weakness, sleep can serve as an early-stage aid to effectively evaluate the myriad business opportunities to pursue,” they said. “Sleeping at the right times, such as the night before ideation and evaluation tasks, will improve outcomes.”