Arianna Huffington has built one of the world's most successful news sites in the digital age. She's also a syndicated columnist and author of 15 books.
But she had an abrupt awakening in 2007, when she collapsed from exhaustion. That wake-up call led to her newest book, “The Sleep Revolution,” which documents the importance of sleep.
Huffington said her collapse happened after taking her daughter to see colleges while simultaneously trying to build the Huffington Post. She collapsed, and broke her cheekbone on her desk.
“It was the beginning of my awakening about how I had completely devalued sleep and thought it was something I could push aside,” Huffington said.
She then began to prioritize sleep and look into scientific research regarding sleep habits. She found an “epidemic of exhaustion.” With the digital revolution, Huffington said, people’s sleep habits got much worse.
“We are all slightly addicted to our phones,” Huffington said. “And now, we never want to put them down, we never want to disconnect. And it makes it much harder to wind down the day, slow down our brains and go to sleep.”
Huffington said that when some people claim they can survive off of five hours of sleep, they’re probably lying or have a genetic mutation.
“There is a genetic mutation ... that about one percent of the population has – that you’re good with five. But the rest of us need seven to nine. Where you are in that is a very individual thing. But that’s the universal scientific conclusion,” she said.
Many politicians say they only get a few hours of sleep each night, but that’s not something to brag about, said Huffington.
“What happens with politicians is that they are responsible for so many key decisions that they often make in a state of sleep deprivation. Bill Clinton acknowledged, finally, that he said, ‘The biggest mistakes I made, I made when I was tired,’” Huffington said.
Huffington said that everyone needs to find a ritual to relax before bed. She recommends winding down with a hot bath or shower, listening to classical music or reading something non-work related – and preferably not on a blue-light screen.
“If you are reading ‘The Sleep Revolution' and it puts you to sleep, I’ll consider it a personal victory,” Huffington said.
Below, highlights from "The Sleep Revolution."
“The Sleep Revolution" Manifesto
- Sleep is a fundamental and non-negotiable human need.
- Sleep allows us to see the world with fresh eyes and a reinvigorated spirit.
- We may be what we eat, but also, to be sure, we are how we sleep.
- Exhaustion is a sign of chaos, not a badge of honor.
- A good day starts the night before.
- We will treat ourselves as well as we treat our smartphones, making sure we sleep until fully recharged.
- The bedroom is for sleep, not for work.
- We will usher our smartphones out of the bedroom when we go to bed.
- We will not drive if we are drowsy!
- Great pajamas are a great investment.
- We will choose sleep over busywork.
- When we walk through the door of our bedroom, we will leave the day–with allof its problems and unfinished business–behind.
Arianna Huffington's 12 Tips for Better Sleep
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool (between 60 and 67 degrees).
- No electronic devices starting 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Don’t charge your phone next to your bed. Even better: gently escort all devices completely out of your bedroom.
- No caffeine after 2 p.m.
- Remember, your bed is for sleep and sex only—no work!
- Sorry, Mr. Snuffles: No pets on the bed.
- Take a hot bath with Epsom salts before bed to help calm your mind and body.
- Pajamas, nightdresses and even special T-shirts send a sleep-friendly message to your body. If you wore it to the gym, don’t wear it to bed.
- Do some light stretching, deep breathing, yoga or meditation to help your body and your mind transition to sleep.
- When reading in bed, make it a real book or an e-reader that does not emit blue light. And make sure it is not work-related: novels, poetry, philosophy, anything but work.
- Ease yourself into sleep mode by drinking some chamomile or lavender tea.
- Before bed, write a list of what you are grateful for. It’s a great way to make sure your blessings get the closing scene of the night.
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May 1, 2014: No one can dispute Arianna Huffington’s success in the business world. But after an accidental fall from exhaustion and lack of sleep, Huffington began asking herself – Is this really what success feels like? She shares her secrets on success. Read an excerpt of Huffington's book.