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Arianna Huffington – Sleep Crusader

Arianna Huffington is one of the most powerful and recognized women in America. The Greek-American author and columnist runs the popular news website The Huffington Post, and has even run for Governor of the state of California. In 2009 Forbes named her one of the most influential women in media, so when she becomes passionate about a new topic, people tend to sit up and pay attention, and in recent days Huffington has become passionate about the topic of sleep – and specifically about getting enough of it. 

At the headquarters of the Huffington Post, she has created two nap rooms available for her staff, for whenever they feel the need. She recently gave a TED talk devoted to the benefits of getting enough rest, and in her new book “Thrive”, she devote a tremendous amount of effort to the topic.

One of her biggest pet peeves is the overriding cultural norm that has professionals believing that not getting enough sleep is some kind of badge of honor and that it automatically means that the person is working hard, and is quick to point to studies that indicate that those who aren’t getting enough sleep end up being deficient in areas of focus, mood, decision making, and most importantly health.

In “Thrive”, she writes, “The most basic shift we can make in redefining success in our lives has to do with our strained relationship with sleep.” She also runs down a list of seven top tips for getting the kind of quality sleep that makes a real difference and allows you to feel alert, refreshed and productive the following morning. Her seven tips from “Thrive” are:

  • Get a new pillow. And a new pillowcase.
  • Make your bedroom darker and keep it cool.
  • Practice deep breathing before bed.
  • Take a warm bath before bed.
  • Exercise or at least walk every day.
  • Banish all LCD screens (laptops, tablets, smartphones, TV) at night.
  • Cut down on coffee after 2 p.m. and avoid alcohol right before bedtime to give the body time to metabolize it.

Though some of these rules may be difficult to adhere to, particularly for those who are addicted to their devices, she suggests that doing so offers tremendous rewards. “Too many of us are fueled by the fear that getting the proper amount of sleep means we must not be passionate enough about our work and our life. By sleeping more we, in fact, become more competent and in control of our lives.”

For those who don’t pick up her book, The Huffington Post is also running a cautionary infographic about the things that can happen to you over the short term and the long term if you don’t get enough sleep.  The graphic shows a woman whose face is split in two, indicating one night of lost sleep and an extended period. The short term impacts include not looking your best, more likely to get emotional and more likely to get into an accident, while the long term focus on the various health risks, including a risking risk of obesity, some forms of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

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