Dolly Parton Reveals She Runs on Surprisingly Few Hours of Sleep

You don’t reach Dolly Parton’s level of success without a great deal of hard work. Her endless work has won the singer nine Grammy Awards and a whopping 50 nominations, and she’s written some of the most iconic songs of all time.

As described in her Netflix documentary Dolly Parton: Here I Am, Parton’s songwriting is quick. She wrote “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on the same night, and has written over 3,000 songs throughout her career. Her other business ventures include Dollywood and most recently a Christmas album and Netflix film. You’d think that working as much as she does wouldn’t leave much time for chilling at home, but she’s managed to keep a happy and private home life with her husband of 54 years, Carl Dean.

When speaking about her home life in a recent interview with RuPaul, the star revealed her sleeping habits. And the amount of rest the singer gets on a daily basis makes her songwriting output make all the more sense.

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton | Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Dolly Parton’s morning routine starts crazy early

As the “9 to 5” singer told RuPaul in an interview for Marie Claire, she wakes up before the crack of dawn most mornings.

“I’m a very, very, very early riser,” she said. And she wasn’t kidding.

“I’m always, almost always up for good around 3 a.m.,” Parton shared. “So I do some of my best spiritual work, some of my best writing, and some of my business work—call-ins and letters that I’m writing or whatever—between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. I get more work done during that little period of time when the world is calm, energies are down, and I just feel like a farmer. I think God is a farmer. He’s getting out and he’s throwing down all these little nuggets of corn. Corn mostly, in my place. They say the early bird gets the worm. Well, they also get a lot of good ideas too.”

1974: Country singer Dolly Parton performs onstage with an acoustic guitar in circa 1974. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Dolly Parton Wrote These Two Iconic Songs in One Day

Dolly Parton sometimes just gets by on power-naps

The 74-year-old clearly has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. This year alone, she helped fund the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, she released Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square on Netflix, and released a completely separate Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmas. And her commitment to the hustle has resulted in her barely getting any sleep.

You’d think that waking up at 3 a.m. would make her go to bed earlier, but that’s not the case. Although, she says she functions just fine on the amount she gets, even though it’s never the recommended eight hours.

“I go to bed pretty early,” she told RuPaul. “But I’m up and down. If I wake up and I’m pretty well awake, I think, I’ve got so much to do, I’ll get up and I’ll work a little while, write a little while, and I’ll lay back down.”

“I don’t require a lot of sleep,” Parton continued. “Three to five hours I can work on. Five hours I like to get. But usually I’m between three and five. But usually, if I’m on the job, I’ll take a little power nap.”

Yes, you read that right. Parton, at 74-years-old, only sleeps for five hours max every night. Her philosophy is simple: once you’re awake, get to work. For her, that means tending to her most pressing business, and once that’s done and her husband’s awake, she makes them breakfast. And her favorite breakfast is a southern classic.

“This morning I made breakfast for my husband and me,” she told RuPaul. “I made some sausage patties, and I baked some biscuits, and I made some milk gravy. He likes that once in a while. Now, I can’t eat like that all the time, but I enjoy eating it when I do.”

This woman really does it all.