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Fast Forward

Go to sleep, go to sleep, little CEOs …

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On these dark, cold mornings, all I'd like to do is sleep. But the day beckons – and the alarm is in the next room – so I have to get up and get going.

Do you sleep enough, or do you consider sleeping a huge waste of time? In the uber-competitive world of billionaires and celebrity CEOs, going with less and less sleep is one more competition to ace, right up there with notching the biggest bonus, Hamptons mansion and yacht.

Four to five hours seems to be the standard for these folks, though if you ask me, if former Gen. Stanley McChrystal was really functioning on one meal per day and four hours of sleep when he was commander in Afghanistan, it's no wonder his judgment failed him when a Rolling Stone reporter sought access to his inner circle. That "yes" ended his career.

But who knows if they are telling the truth anyway? It seems that people aren't very good at estimating how they spend their time. We get everything wrong, from the number of hours we work to the amount of time we spend sleeping, according to a Gallup survey released last week.

Regardless of what you think, sleep is necessary, even though human kind hasn't quite figured out why. Sleep shortages lead to mistakes, accidents, short tempers and emotional problems. Sleep deprivation is torture, literally.

But, as a story in the New York Times put it last week, sleep itself is the dangerous "risk (of) death-by-leopard-in-the-night." We're getting clues, though. The story looks at new studies that suggest sleep allows a physical sweeping of waste products from the brain.

That certainly brings this most mysterious period in our daily lives down to the earth. But it doesn't address the question of why we dream.

Ancient men and women believed dreams were inspired by the divine. More recently, scientists have theorized that dreams allow us to arrange our mental filing cabinets or hardwire learning; if you want to go more Freudian, in dreams we wrestle with our deepest desires and conflicts, suppressed when we are awake.

Sleep is also a state when we are least inhibited. And that can lead to more creativity when we're awake, refreshed and alert.

The moments upon awakening, in fact, may be our most creative of the day.

But to experience them, we have to sleep first.

The week ahead

Milton S. Hershey was no slouch. I can't tell you what his sleep habits were, but we know he was creative and a first-rate doer. Reporter Mike Sadowski will have a story in this week's issue about what businesses can learn today from the Hershey way.

Also on the move is Lancaster County-based company Warfel Construction. Find out from reporter Jason Scott what's driving Warfel's growth.

Our Inside Business focus is on banking, finance and investments.

Find your weekly networking opportunities here.

And I'm proud to announce our 2014 Book of Lists went to the printer last week. With more than 200 pages of information and sales leads for midstate companies, the Book of Lists can be a powerful tool to power your business forward. Not a subscriber? Click here.

The rewind

Sleep "knits the raveled sleeve of care," Shakespeare wrote in "Macbeth." Hamlet pondered a different aspect of this unknown realm: Sleep, i.e. death, may "end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks/That flesh is heir to" – but then, "what dreams may come?"

So Fast Forward leaps from the Bard to Freddie Krueger, moviemaker Wes Craven's stalker of dreams. Maybe you knew that the character was inspired by a true story of men who apparently died of their nightmares. I didn't.

Hope Stephan

Hope Stephan

Hope Stephan is editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. A Pennsylvania native, she is a graduate of Penn State and Xavier University. Have a question or tip for her? Email her at hopes@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @hstephan. Circle Hope Stephan on .

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