Re-reading this April 2016 AFR interview with a click bait title, resonated with regards to the importance of sleep in a technology-fuelled world full of stress and pressure. It’s an insightful summary of Arianna Huffington’s book “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.” This article is definitely worth reading and provides valuable insights into achieving well-being, resilience and mental toughness.
Thanks to Arianna and the Australian Financial Review the article is reproduced below.
Arianna Huffington – media juggernaut, author and lately, sleep crusader – isn’t a believer in having it all. She’s in San Francisco, on a jam-packed book tour of the United States, and this time around, won’t be able to see her close friends because of an intense interview schedule.
Prioritising what counts is part of her latest mission. And at the moment, that’s explaining to the world why sleeping well (or better, if you are really a poor sleeper) matters.
“I just organise my book tour schedule so I have my seven to eight hours sleep,” she says in a phone interview with AFR Weekend. Early starts, late finishes and seven-day weeks are par for the course on the promotion trail. And in addition to making sure she gets enough sleep, Huffington, 65, also makes sure she schedules “recovery time” for activities like hiking.
“It’s about prioritising certain things, I think that’s the truth. I don’t see it as discipline as much anymore, because the reward is actually to be really recharged the next day and enjoy what I’m doing instead of driving myself through the day.”
pushing the limits with sleep. A bloody encounter made
Tipping the balance
In her latest book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, part sleep history, part sleep science and a little bit of self-help thrown in, Huffington argues that we’re at a crucial tipping point.
In the past two decades, the pace of the business world has intensified, she points out.
Technology makes it harder to escape work, and glamorising sleep deprivation has been going on since the Industrial Revolution. Increasingly, the casualties of living and working without enough sleep are harder to ignore. In the first chapter, she recalls the death of the Goldman Sachs first-year analyst in San Francisco in 2015. He jumped from a window after calling his father at 2.40am saying he hadn’t slept for two days. There are other stories about executives collapsing on treadmills, and even Huffington’s own sleep conversion – in 2007, she collapsed, ending up with a broken cheekbone.
“We have an incredible amount of new science that shows us very clearly that we work like that at our peril … this [sleep] is not negotiable. And it does affect our health, and our ability to live and perform,” she says slowly, in her Greek-American accent.
Sleepwalking to victory
It’s time to end the “sleep is for wimps” culture espoused by Gordon Gekko’s character in the movie Wall Street, and – in her catchy, all-too-repeatable phrase – start sleeping your way to the top.
Huffington argues the cultural shift is under way, and particularly in the business sector.
It’s actually amazing, how deep this issue is at the moment,” she says, noting that United States health insurance company Aetna has introduced a program that pays employees who regularly get seven or more hours of sleep a night, for 20 nights in a row. Their sleep pattern is tracked by Fitbits, and good sleepers can receive up to $US500 a year.
“It’s amazing that a CEO would decide it’s in the interests of the bottom line,” she says. But she disagrees it’s intrusive.
“People don’t have to participate in the program, but when you change a culture you have to have incentives.”
Huffington talks about getting more sleep in terms of “cultural change”, “issue”, “movement”, “an incredible period of transition”. She argues getting enough sleep will increase productivity, improve health and even stop some of US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s more outlandish claims. (She’s sure Trump, like many politicians, is suffering from sleep deprivation.)
But she’s too clever to be drawn into ranking sleep against other social challenges, such as having better diversity in boardrooms.
“I think there are many things that have to change in corporations,” she says, though she notes women typically need more sleep than men and in many cases, the price of career success for females is often their health.
She’s encouraged that business leaders like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella are talking openly about needing eight hours of sleep a night, and equally, that management consultants like McKinsey are publishing papers on the links between effective leadership and sleep.
Huffington has been arguing for more sleep since she published her previous book Thrive, and realised “the one thing people wanted to talk about was sleep. Especially business people who felt ‘meditation is not for me, mindfulness is not for me, but hey, I have to sleep. And I’m having real trouble powering down my brain, and I’m waking up in the middle of the night. Or I wake up and I’m exhausted’.”
There was definitely another book in it.
Putting sleep aside – and that’s hard to do, given Huffington is intently focused on the issue – what else has she sacrificed for success in her career? Well, she hasn’t seen the latest House of Cards season, and doesn’t imagine she will.
“I could have given up a lot more discretionary things. Like watching the entire series of House of Cards. Absolutely, there are things you give up,” she says slowly, before admitting she is yet to see the entire series.
“And actually, a lot of people think that somehow they work hard, and now they have earned the House of Cards, or going out to a bar or whatever it is that allows them to relax. All I’m saying is you are going to have a lot more fun if you are recharged. So it’s not as if it takes away from your fun; it actually makes everything in life more joyful.”
The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, W.H. Allen, published here by Random House, $35, paperback.
Clearly sleep is a fundamental key in achieving well-being, resilience and mental toughness. To learn more about achieving well-being, resilience and mental toughness to maintain and build success in your personal or professional life or in the day to day of your team, contact us.