Arianna Huffington is one of the most outspoken voices on the topic of sleep. Originally from Greece, Huffington is now one of the most recognizable faces in media and business in the US and around the world. She is the co-founder of the Huffington Post which launched in 2005 and was subsequently bought by AOL in 2011 for $315 million. She remained Editor-In-Chief until she left the company in 2016 to pursue other interests, one of which was writing. Huffington is the author of numerous books including ‘The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,’ ‘Thrive,’ and ‘Becoming Fearless...in Love, Work, and Life.’
Why is getting enough sleep so crucial to Arianna Huffington?
It’s the lack of high-quality sleep that concerns Huffington the most, particularly to individuals in the business world. Her fascination with the topic stems from the fact that she collapsed due to sleep deprivation - and she suspects she isn’t the only entrepreneur who has suffered the same fate.
She firmly believes that sleep is the key to success, not just in business, but in our personal lives too.
“The irony is that a lot of people forego sleep in the name of productivity… but in fact, our productivity is substantially reduced when we’re sleep deprived,” she said.
The truth is, everyone’s sleeping patterns vary considerably, and it’s an incredibly individualistic thing. With that said, there are actionable tips and advice that you can take from Huffington and her work to help you overcome issues you might be having with sleep.
Fundamentally, we all need sleep to restore energy levels, strengthen our bodies, and process information. Each of these non-optional tasks is carried out most efficiently when the human body is ‘at rest'. In simple terms, sleeping cleanses the human brain. Naturally, cutting short on sleep might be restricting your body’s ‘cleaning time'.
How to form habits to get good sleep like Arianna Huffington
To get enough high quality sleep Huffington uses a nighttime routine that starts up to 90-minutes before she goes to sleep which consists of four critical steps. This simple routine is an excellent example of how you can use habits to achieve the desired outcome.
Keeping in mind that Huffington built up this 90-minute routine over the course of a few years, you shouldn’t expect to emulate her just yet. Instead, start with one of the four following habits, selected with the help of Huffington’s guidance and add more over time.
1. Track your sleep
To see if any of the following changes make any difference you’ll need to track your sleep. Ideally at least the number of hours of sleep that you get.
It's a good idea to get an activity tracker that also tracks sleep as you’re likely spending less time sleeping than you think. Often, if you’re in bed for 8 hours you are only sleeping 7.5 or even less depending on how long it takes to get to bed and how many times you wake up.
“# of hours of sleep (goal 7+)”
By tracking the specific number of hours you’ll get a feel over time what the optimal number is for you. 8 hours isn’t for everyone, you might actually need a bit more or perhaps even a bit less.
2. Put your devices away and store them in another room
Huffington makes a big deal about removing all technology-based devices from her bedroom well before she starts her nighttime routine. That’s right - no emails, no messages, and no TV before bed. Bright screens have the opposite impact of what you want (that is, to get sleepy,) before bed: they wake you up and keep your brain alert.
While completely removing technology from your bedroom may sound impossible for some people, you can start small and build up to the 90 minutes that Huffington recommends:
“No screens 15 minutes before bed.”
This means cutting out an episode of your favorite show and replacing it with some reading (of a non-digital book or magazine, of course,) but it’s an excellent place to start.
3. Take a hot bath or shower to relax
Huffington (as well as Tim Ferriss) claims that this is her way to “wash away the day” and while that might be a helpful analogy, having a bath or shower before bed is an excellent way to not only clean but relax your body, muscles, and mind. It’s not uncommon for some of us to do a lot of thinking in the shower, so decluttering your mind can be a side benefit of showering late at night.
“Take a quick 5-minute shower as soon as you finish watching television, using your phone, or computer.”
Using a trigger - in this case - the moment you put down your phone or stop watching television, can be an efficient way of building a habit. You’ll begin to recognize that moment when you stop looking at your devices as the moment you have a shower or bath.
4. Wear comfortable clothing to bed
Associating comfortable clothing with bedtime is another trick that Huffington uses. She lays out her nightwear just before having her bath so that when she gets out, she’s ready to get into bed with no other distractions.
“Lay out comfortable nightwear before nighttime routine.”
Again, similar to the shower/bath routine, using a trigger to associate the next ‘step’ in a process is an efficient way to make a habit of it.
5. Read a book until you’re sleepy
The last step of the routine for Huffington is to read until her eyes get drowsy and she physically wants to shut. It’s a simple approach: focus your eyes on a) something you enjoy like a book, or b) a dull surface (and not a bright screen!).
“Read for 5 minutes once you get into bed.”
Reading for even 5 minutes is a great place to start, and it will probably be enough to help you doze off late at night.
All of the suggested habits throughout the above article can be copied into the Evolution 2 habit tracker. Just sign-up for your account here and start tracking your habit-building progress today.