“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.”
The Greek-American media mogul and founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington has long been an advocate for life hacks and success optimization. Her most recent book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, makes a case for proper sleep as the key to success.
Workaholics often neglect sleep to maximize their productive waking hours, ironically undermining the quality of work they can get done. Research shows that our cognitive functions, emotional intelligence, and overall mental health are impaired when we don’t get enough sleep. Irritability and a likeliness to overreact are common results. Too many hyper-driven types are deluded into thinking that they can get by on four to six hours of sleep when eight remains the ideal.
“It’s also our collective delusion that overwork and burnout are the price we must pay in order to succeed.”
In The Sleep Revolution, Huffington traces the trendiness of sleep deprivation back to the Industrial Revolution, when human beings became less valued in service of productivity. With today’s digital revolution, “It’s getting worse and worse because of our addiction to devices,” says Huffington. This is not only detrimental to the health of the working population, but to productivity as well. In addition to impaired moods and diets, a lack of sleep negatively affects creativity, decision-making, and our general ability to get work done.
Huffington likens sleep deprivation to “the new smoking.” It will be looked upon by future generations as a harmful lifestyle choice indicative of a more ignorant time than as a badge of honor. Employers are already wising up to the new science behind sleep, providing nap rooms in the workplace, and more flexible work hours.
So what does Arianna Huffington recommend? She prefers “rekindling the romance with sleep.” She turns off all her devices 30 minutes before bedtime and places them outside the bedroom. Following that is a hot bath to put the mind and body at ease and wind down the day. Huffington wears pajamas instead of what she calls bed-gym clothes. In bed, she reads only physical books that have nothing to do with the kind of productivity non-fiction she writes, but tend to be poetry, philosophy, and fiction.
Huffington ends the day by writing three things she’s grateful to lessen the chance for anxious dreams or waking up in the middle of the night. Her bed setup is decorated to be a sort of sleep palace, treating her rest as a proper reward for a day fully lived. Sleep is an ultimately an act to look forward to rather than a chore to check off the list on the way to more productivity. “We need to make sleep something that’s welcoming,” she says.