On the most recent episode of The Thrive Global Podcast, Thrive Global founder and CEO Arianna Huffington sat down with television and film actor, venture capitalist, philanthropist, producer and—the role that matters most to him—father Ashton Kutcher. In a wide-ranging conversation, Huffington and Kutcher spoke about everything from family, social media and privacy to sleeping, time management and what it means to truly relax.
One unexpected topic of their conversation? The lesson Kutcher learned from Alphabet’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt that has stuck with him to this day.
Kutcher said he was around 30 when he was having dinner with Schmidt, who was running Google at the time. As the dinner was wrapping up, Schmidt was “doing a bunch of texting,” Kutcher told Huffington.
Kutcher said that he reminded Schmidt that they were still at dinner, and Schmidt responded that he was canceling his meetings for the following morning.
“What? Really? It's like 9:00 p.m.,” Kutcher said.
Schmidt’s response wasn’t what Kutcher was expecting to hear.
“He's like, ‘Well, by the time I get home, it'll be 10:00 p.m. and by the time I get to sleep it'll be 10:30 p.m. and I won't get my eight hours of sleep,’” Kutcher recalled.
"You get eight hours of sleep every night?” Kutcher asked, to which Schmidt responded, “Yes. I operate optimally at eight hours of sleep, so I get eight hours every night, and I'll cancel my meetings in the morning if I'm not gonna get eight hours.”
“And I went, ‘You can do that and run Google?’” Kutcher said. (Schmidt has since confirmed his belief that good sleep enhances your ability to do almost everything in a piece he wrote for Thrive Global.)
It was a wake-up call for Kutcher, who was getting five or six hours of sleep a night at the time.
“There was a sort of...stoicism that came with not sleeping and being tough. My stepdad used to tell me he only slept on Tuesdays,” Kutcher said. “And so I had this notion that not sleeping meant that you were more manly.”
His conversation with Schmidt changed the way Kutcher views his sleep. He now makes a point to “demand that I sleep seven hours, and sleep eight if I can.”
Huffington approved, adding that, “unless you have a genetic mutation, and about 1.5 percent of the population does, and they can do great on four or five hours, the rest of us need seven to nine hours.”
To hear the full conversation, click here.