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Questlove: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore the routines, schedules, habits and typical day in their life.

The greatest trick Questlove ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t sleep.

It’s not hard to see why fans might fall for the myth that Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson never gets any shuteye. Aside from his main jobs — drummer for The Roots and music for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon — Questlove also hosts a weekly podcast, Questlove Supreme, authored several books, DJs around the world, teaches at the New York University, and plenty, plenty more.

But in a Red Bull Academy interview with Ego Trip founder, Jefferson “Chairman” Mao, Questlove gave away a little of his secret:

I think that the smoke and mirrors of the whole idea of ‘Questlove doesn’t sleep’ might be just based on the fact that I’m the guy that will wake up and think of a funny tweet, and tweet. I have a computer right next to my bed, so I’ll just tweet and then go back to sleep.

Questlove (2013) | Red BUll Music ACademy

Twitter facades aside, on a usual day, Questlove gets a reasonable amount of sleep. “On the average, I manage to get six to, all right, five to six hours, seven sometimes,” he told the Red Bull audience. “I get it at night. I’ll go to bed at 3:30 in the morning. I’m usually up at 9:30.”

For a 2011 Daily Beast profile, Marlow Stern followed the drummer around to get a glimpse into an average day in the life, which saw Questlove keep up a frantic pace from 11am to midnight.

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During the recording of The Roots tenth album, Undun, and producing Betty Wright’s 2011’s album, Thompson revealed that the band worked from 7pm (after taping for Fallon) until 3am the next morning.

“I was doing the two records and getting maybe two to three hours of sleep every day,” he said. “I’d go to bed at five and wake up at eight in the morning.” A subsequent doctors visit forced Questlove to recheck his health and lifestyle.

At first, I used to panic like “I gotta be busy” but then to do all the things I’m involved with, I feel as though I now have to make space to be bored and sit silent.

How Questlove Learned to Love Silence | WNYC Studios

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

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Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.