Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2024
Napoleon and sleep There are numerous claims that Napoleon was a short sleeper e.g. the claim that he slept only from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., and then he woke up, worked and went to bed again at 5 a.m. and woke up at 7 a.m. which would mean he slept only 4 hours a night here. We have nothing directly from Napoleon concerning his sleep but one of his most important aides, General Armand de Caulaincourt, stated: “The Emperor needed much sleep, but he slept when he wanted, during the day as well as at night.” Furthermore his Private Secretary is clear about his sleep habits and is most explicit as to the motivation of those who claim that he is a short sleeper. Indeed this can been seen as the explanation for the modern myth of the ‘genius short sleeper’, “If his enemies, by way of reproach, have attribute to him a serious periodical disease, his flatterers, probably under the idea that sleep is incompatible with greatness, have evinced an equal disregard of truth in speaking of his night-watching. Bonaparte made others watch, but he himself slept, and slept well. His orders were that I should call him every morning at seven. I was therefore the first to enter his chamber; but very frequently when I awoke him he would turn himself, and say, "Ah, Bourrienne! let me lie a little longer." When there was no very pressing business I did not disturb him again till eight o'clock. He in general slept seven hours out of the twenty- four, besides taking a short nap in the afternoon.” Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, by Louis Antoine Fauvelet De Bourrienne, His Private Secretary 1891 NB There is also not a shred of evidence for Napoleon saying "Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool"