If You're Living In The UAE, You're Not Getting Enough Sleep

By Ali Khaled
11 February 2019
World Government Summit, Sleep
Just because Edison, Tesla and Da Vinci shunned sleep, doesn't mean every self-styled entrepreneur can. World Government Summit in Dubai reveals city's residents are averaging a stressful sub-6-hours eye-shut

So we’re not getting enough sleep and rest.

So what's new? All those late nights watching Netflix, Champions League football or scrolling through Instagram will do that to you.

But did you realise that we live in one of the most sleep-deprived regions in the developed world?

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, US television’s Dr Oz, no less, revealed some worrying trends.

“I ran a study recently comparing the UAE to the Western world. People here lie in bed three minutes shorter than in the US,” said the star of the The Dr Oz Show. “But the study also showed that the average person in the UAE is only sleeping for five hours and 38 minutes each night - 28 minutes shorter than in the West. Sleep is a direct barometer of stress.”

Arianna Huffington, speaking at the same forum, lamented the culture of busy-ness and addiction to phones as she explained how the app she has founded, Thrive, aims to battle tech-dependency.

"We launched a new app to help us manage our relationship with our phone better,” she told CNBC in Dubai. “It's paradoxical, it's basically using technology to help us re-calibrate our relationship with technology."

Anyone who’s ever reached for their phone subconsciously while watching a film, or checked their messages after waking up in the middle of the night, could probably use a reset.

The six to eight hour sleep cycle seems reasonable enough, but some people continue to carry their bags under their eyes as some badge of honour.

I’m just so busy.

Then again, we’re often bombarded by misleading information about sleep. Some of the world’s greatest achievers had peculiar sleeping habits to say the least, and budding entrepreneurs and creative types will often find the attraction to that lifestyle irresistible.

Did you know that for a period Nikola Tesla, one of the world’s greatest inventors, would sleep no more than two hours a day as he immersed himself in his work? According to a report by Big Brand Beds UK in 2015, a mental breakdown at 25 forced him to have a rethink.

His rival Thomas Edison also disliked sleep and would try and get around long bouts of inactivity by napping every few hours. A similar polyphasic sleep cycle, called the Uberman Sleep Cycle, was used centuries earlier by Leonardo Da Vinci, who would nap for 20 minutes every four hours, the study revealed.

While no one can deny the aforementioned trio’s professional prolific success, they were, after all, their own bosses. Try sleeping on your desk every few hours and see how well that goes down with HR.

On the opposite end of the productivity spectrum, Donald Trump claims to sleep three to four hours a night, which perhaps explains the quantity, and quality, of his tweets.

More reasonable, for some at least, are those who start their day very early but still manage a healthy amount of sleep in a 24-hour cycle.

Richard Branson famously begins his day at 5.45, which might win him few friends but has earned him a fortune, and soon probably some real estate on the moon. Mariah Carey claimed in 2007 that she sleeps 15 hours to maintain her voice, which, quite frankly, makes her a hero.

Winston Churchill ensured he was always rested by having a bed in the Houses of Parliament, and many other world leaders averaged between five to six hours, including Benjamin Franklin, who has the last word on sleep.

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Then again, Mr Franklin never had to check his Twitter feed at 3am. In Dubai.