“Modern science proves that it’s non-negotiable,” said Arianna Huffington at The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Sunday, April 10th at the University of Southern California campus. We need to sleep, and all scientist agree that “over 98% of humanity need 7-9 hours of sleep.”
The remaining 2% are not stronger or more dedicated to their work because they don’t sleep that much. They are literally mutants– with a specific gene that can be tested for, and you’ll know you have it.
This is Huffington’s primary message in her new book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, which should definitely be on everyone’s reading lists, especially anyone thinking about balance their lives. Huffington divided the book into 2 parts: The science and facts behind why we need sleep, and tips and tools to help us sleep better every night.
This blog post has been a long time coming–after I attended her talk and the BookFest and as I make my way through the book–especially because of Huffington’s mission not only to educate us on the science behind our basic human need for sleep, but also because of what I think is her admirable goal of dispelling the idea that in order to succeed, we must sleep less. Many people seem to think that not getting enough sleep is a sign of ambition, hustle and drive. Huffington stated unequivocally that it’s simply foolish (and I agree).
First, there are facts that can’t be disputed. She explained:
- $63 BILLION are lost to economy because of sleep deprivation, measured by productivity and health care cost.
- Even though we’re now working longer hours than ever, last year we each lost 11 days of productivity (or about $2,280).
Then, there is common sense based on this “non-negotiable part of evolution.” Huffington said that we “need to stop being in awe of politicians who claim they don’t sleep.” I would add to that leaders in all fields, be it entrepreneurs, writers, teachers, and even parents. Watch this video from the event last month where she explains the link between effective leadership and sleep.
I thought it was fascinating when she made the link between the state of our country and sleep deprivation: “The state of American politics,” she said, “Is a manifestation of how our politicians are running our country chronically sleep deprived.”
There needs to be a general shift in our culture with respect to how we view sleep. As individuals, we have an important role to play in how we revere lack of sleep as a mark and ingredient of success. Businesses have an important role too, and some are leading the way, including The Huffington Post: They have 2 nap rooms, and Huffington herself naps in her office with the curtains open because she “wanted to remove stigma.”
“At Huff Post,” she said, “We believe you’re going to be more productive if you nap, rather than having the fifth cup of coffee or third Cinnabon.
She encourages everyone to get 8 hours of sleep every night, and nap if you feel tired.
What was most helpful to me in her talk and in the book so far, is the idea of a “clear demarcation line between day life and sleep.” I simply hadn’t thought of it that way before. I thought of sleep as just one more thing I need to do every day, rather than a special time that can have some ritual and pleasure to it. As Huffington put it, “You need to disconnect and reconnect with something deeper in ourselves.”
She also spoke to the idea of work-life balance, and sleep being an important component that we cannot skimp on because of delusions of how important our work is. She talked about cultivating “the recognition that however magnificent our jobs, we are more than our jobs…
“No one with even a remotely interesting job can finish everything they want to do in one day. We need to acknowledge that there are going to be incompletions, but the day is done.”
I personally now have a to-do list based on The Sleep Revolution, including getting an alarm clock that is not on my phone, so that I can keep all my digital devices outside of the bedroom. I’ll report back on more tools suggested in the book later in the summer when I’m finished reading and experimenting, but for now I wanted to officially add this to my recommended work-life balance reading list.
We all need to join the #SleepRevolution!
“We are more than our successes and failures. We are more than other people’s opinions.” ~Arianna Huffington
During her conversation with LA Times columnist Robin Abcarian at the Festival of Books at USC in April, Huffington seemed to answer some of my burning questions that inspired my “A Working Life” Q&A series, which I got a real kick out of. I’ll be working on a separate post about more of her work-life balance, email, and disconnecting policies, but for now I’ll leave you with this:
(I took this photo at the Lower Antelope Canyon in March).