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Last week, Arianna Huffington said Elon Musk’s lack of sleep is impairing his performance. “The science is clear,” she wrote after Tesla’s chief executive officer told the New York Times that he works 120 hours a week, leaving him with little time to rest. Yet science doesn’t show a clear positive relationship between sleep duration and cognitive ability. When it comes to sleep — as in much else — quality matters more than quantity. Although Huffington published a bestselling book about sleep in 2016, the only scientific publication she cited in her open letter to Musk was a 2000 paper that likened the performance of a person awake for 17 to 19 hours to that of someone with a 0.05 percent blood alcohol content, which is about equal to the level for a 180-pound man after drinking two beers within an hour.

It’s not a horrible condition to be in by the end of the working day and not sufficient to cause serious impairments to decision-making. The Centers for Disease Control and Pr...

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