Arianna Huffington’s wake-up call came in 2007 when she fainted from exhaustion, hit her head on her desk and broke her cheekbone.
It was a call to rest.
After a lifetime of burning the candle at both ends, she buckled down and changed her lifestyle, intent on securing eight hours of sleep each night.
But she didn’t stop there. She left her enormously successful Huffington Post Media Group in 2016 to start Thrive Global in hopes of leading other Americans to the promised land of sleep. And she wrote the 2016 book, “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.”
Now, she’s bringing her sleep revolution to Sun Valley as the keynote speaker at the 2017 Sun Valley Wellness Festival over Memorial Day Weekend.
Huffington will talk about “Ending the Stress and Burnout Epidemic by Changing the Way We Work and Live” at 6 p.m. Friday, May 26, at the Sun Valley Pavilion. Tickets are available at www.sunvalleywellness.org.
“I hear many tales of sleep deprivation. And while some are extreme and can end up as medical emergencies, most are more along the lines of: ‘I just can’t ever seem to get enough sleep,’ and ‘I’m tired all the time!’ ” said Huffington, the author of 15 books.
Sleep, Huffington says, is the No. 1 key to success.
If so, it’s a key that many Americans are missing. More than a third of Americans report getting five hours or less every night, even if they want to get more sleep.
Huffington says we need to change a culture that has prized sleep deprivation as a badge of honor, a mark of how busy we are.
“What’s most needed is that we rethink our culture’s relationship to sleep and shake off the collective delusion that burnout and sleep deprivation are simply the price we have to pay for success,” she said. “The science is in on how vital sleep is to every aspect of our physical and mental health. What we need to do is bring our culture in line with the science.”
Huffington herself avoids caffeine after 2 p.m. She takes a hot candlelit bath with Epson salts to calm her mind and body, prolonging her bath if she’s feeling anxious about something.
She eschews the clothes she wore to the gym for pajamas in the belief the act of putting them on sends a signal to her body that it’s time to shut down. She keeps her bedroom dark, quiet and cool. She checks into bed based on when she has to get up in the morning. And she turns off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
“There are studies showing that meditation can help people fall asleep more quickly. Exercise has also been shown to help. And, one of my favorite tips: Banish your phone from your bedroom at night and charge it somewhere – anywhere – else,” she said.
“Our phones are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to sleep — our to-do lists, our in-boxes, our anxieties,” she added. “Plus, the blue light they give off suppresses melatonin, the hormone connected to sleep regulation. So putting your phone to bed before you put yourself to bed makes you more likely to wake up as fully charged as your phone.”
Just in case, she doesn’t get the sleep she needs on occasion, Huffington outfits her offices with nap rooms.
Unfortunately, she says, there isn’t any one remedy or magic pill to solve the sleep crisis in America. But, she adds, technology is as good a place to start as any: “Given the role technology — and the pace it dictates for our lives — is playing in how stressed out and sleep-deprived we all are, this also means recalibrating our relationship with technology.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Arianna Huffington ran as an independent candidate for governor in the California recall election of 2003. She described her candidacy against Sun Valley homeowner Arnold Schwarzenegger as “the hybrid versus the Hummer,” referring to her ownership of a Toyota Prius and Schwarzenegger’s Hummer.
SUN VALLEY WELLNESS FESTIVAL
The Sun Valley Wellness Festival kicks off May 25 with an opening ceremony and clearing ceremony and showing of the movie “A Plastic Ocean.”
Speakers include Wayne Pacelle, director of the Humane Society of the United States and Dr. Vandana Shiva, who has fought against pesticides and for seed saving.
By Karen Bossick – Eye on Sun Valley