Apex Predators, Sleep, and Entrepreneurs

Share this content

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and frankly humans in general tend not to sleep as much as they need. According to Gallup poll, Americans sleep an average of 6.8 hours, which is down by an hour since 1942.

We know that during sleep, our brains sort and file information. We optimize our brains for the next day. As well, hunger hormones like gherlin are released that can make us crave carbs or healthy foods. A lot is on the line when we talk about sleep!

The other night, while I was falling asleep, I had an idea.

What do other top animals do for sleep? I was thinking about animals that have no known predators in their environment. Ones that are at the top if the food chain and don’t have as much to worry about.

My theory was that if I looked at apex predators, animals with no known predator in their region, I could discover something about thriving and sleeping (beyond what I already know about kid’s sleep).

So I started to look around at the lifestyle habits of golden eagles, cougars, lions, Eurasian lynx, great whites and lions, to mention a few.

If these animals are able to be the top animals on their continent and still lounge around, why can’t we? My theory was actually spot on!

The Sleep of Animals I Evaluated

Golden Eagle

The North America golden eagle sleeps most of the night (immediately after sun goes down and when the sun is up). As well, it is terribly disoriented if its nest is destroyed until it finds another. Therefore, the average sleep is anywhere from 8.5 on June 21 to 15.2 hours on December 21.   

What we can learn:

  • You can be an awesome eagle and sleep 15 hours.
  • Life has busier times than others.
  • We all need a nest we can trust to get a good night’s sleep, so stop looking at your iPhone in bed.

Great White and Killer Whales

In the ocean a Great White is one of the most notorious animals. It has no known natural predators. What’s unique about the great white is that it must keep moving to breath. Scientists from Marine Dynamics think great whites only rest, and don’t sleep due to the make-up of their brainstem. Erasmo research says that an unconscious shark can still swim and notice divers. Whereas killer whales or orcas actually sleep 5-8 hours.

What we can learn:

  • Sometimes a short rest can help us
  • Great whites are unbelievable and seem like they shouldn’t be able to live without sleep, but evolutionary biology informs us that it’s helped them be the top predator, so maybe pushing ourselves somethings is worth it…if we can get our brain stem to change.


The saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile and hibernates in the winter. It actually sleep with one eye open, according to Live Science. But it sleeps around 17 hours per day!

What we can learn:

  • There are times in life when we need to sleep with one eye open if we’re worried, but a croc is an apex predator so it shouldn’t be worried.
  • Even really old and big animals have weird sleep patterns so maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.
  • You can be a top animal and sit around 17 hours a day!


The African male Lion sleeps 18-20 hours per day (83% of the day). The female lioness sleeps 15-18 hours(75% of the day) according to sleep.org.

What we can learn:

  • There are gender discrepancies even with lions.
  • Four hours of consistent productivity and focus makes you the “king of the jungle.”

Komodo Dragon

The Komodo dragon stays up all day and sleeps at night similar to the golden eagle. It is so asleep it can be touched and never responds because it has no known predators. Unlike the crocodile that sleeps with one eye open, the Komodo dragon knows that s/he can full relax.

What we can learn:

  • We need to get more unconscious since we have no real predators (except other humans)
  • A day well worked can lead to very deep sleep, if you give yourself permission.
  • What I discovered about Apex Predators and Business

Sleep and Entrepreneurs

What I noticed from analyzing the habits of apex predators is that all of them, except the great white, have better sleep patterns than us! Collectively, they get so much more sleep, know that they can relax (know might be too insightful of a word, but who knows), and are able to achieve being an apex predator without having to lose sleep.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, there is always more to do. Maybe it is human’s ability to plan into the future and design our decisions that makes us unable to stick with sleep habits of history. Nature has much to teach us about efficiency, rest, and sleeping.

May you be an apex predator in your business and go get some sleep! In doing so, you’re going to grow your business even more!

consultant headshot JoeJoseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC is a business consultant, enjoys sleeping (but not naps), and seeks to find new ways to grow his business without working more hours.