A recent New York Magazine interview with Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington reveals the presence of a pillow in her New York bedroom emblazoned with the phrase “Sleep your way to the top.” In bygone times, that phrase carried lurid connotations of drastic measures sometimes employed to succeed in the worlds of business and entertainment.
Not so in Huffington’s case. Her pillow reflects her newfound philosophy that adequate, restorative sleep is the key to good health and productivity, which can also lead to career success.
That philosophy is laid out in Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time, published in April. In it, the media maven concludes that sleep is as crucial to good health and productivity as are diet and exercise.
We at Sleep Outfitters, and so many in the business and study of sleep, have understood this for a long time, but Huffington’s book is a clarion call to a much wider audience to take sleep seriously – for good health and career advancement.
In the hard-driving, competitive professional world, getting by on four or five hours sleep each night has traditionally been seen as a badge of courage, a macho bragging right adopted more recently by women as well. Huffington was one of them. She told Vogue magazine in an April interview that in 2007 she was trying to find enough hours in a day to raise her two daughters, manage her media empire and fly around the world for meetings and speeches, all on three to four hours sleep a night. That is until she awoke in a pool of her own blood. Turns out she had collapsed as a result of sleep deprivation, and fractured her cheek in the process.
Yes, it was a wake-up call (we couldn’t resist the pun), but Huffington did not transform her sleep habits overnight. This is a woman who, in 2014, was dubbed the 54th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. So, the demands of her waking hours did not just go away, but she says she gradually increased nightly sleep by 30 minutes and now she gets a solid eight hours.
The old philosophy of time is money (and sleep is wasted time) has been put to bed by Huffington, for her and her employees. She maintains she is sympathetic to employees who call to say they are coming in late due to late-night entertaining or a sick child. The Huffington Post also has sleeping rooms, she says, where employees can sign-up for afternoon naps instead of relying on sugar and caffeine to make it through an afternoon lull.
Is Huffington right?
Are we in need of a sleep revolution?
The Centers for Disease Control estimates between 50 and 70 million Americans have some sort of sleep or wakefulness disorder, such as snoring, insomnia or daytime drowsiness.
In 2014, the National Sleep Foundation, a not-for-profit organization of physicians, clinicians and others dedicated to studying sleep, conducted its inaugural Sleep Health Index survey in which 35 percent of Americans (both men and women) said their sleep quality was “poor” or “only fair.” People who reported poor or only fair general health were also more likely to report poor or fair sleep quality.
Since this study will be conducted annually (2014 statistics are the latest available), future data will tell us how we’re faring in the sleep department, but in today’s hard-charging, get-ahead culture, it is not difficult to imagine that those striving to get to the top are sacrificing sleep on their climb.
The pervasiveness of electronic devices does not help either. The blue spectrum light — emitted as we stare into the screens of our computers, TVs, tablets and smart phones right up until bedtime — tricks the brain into thinking it should stay awake, making it harder to get to sleep.
Getting by on less sleep not only impedes our ability to be productive, to succeed, to get ahead and live life to its fullest, it can also be cause for a myriad of health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and even cancer.
A November New York Post article on modern executive sleep deprivation featured former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Lorelli, who said he got by on five hours sleep each night, and that lack of sleep was his top mental and physical problem. Then Lorelli heard a talk by sleep researcher James B. Maas, Ph.D., who said people who regularly missed their third REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle of sleep (there should be four REM cycles each night) live, on average, seven fewer years. Lorelli says he now tries for six-and-a-half hours of sleep nightly, and he’s created an employee nap room at this current company.
Sleep health is not about just getting ahead; it’s about not getting dead.
We really should spend one-third of our lives sleeping, if we’re to be productive during the waking two-thirds of our lives. If you’re not sleeping well due to a medical condition, see your doctor. If you suspect your sleep problem can be solved with a new mattress or pillows, then visit us at one of our Sleep Outfitters stores or at Sleep Outfitters.com.
We all sleep. Why not sleep well?
For more information, contact:
Greg McGraw, Territory Sales Manager
Innovative Mattress Solutions (Sleep Outfitters & Mattress Warehouse)
614-436-4115 . firstname.lastname@example.org