A decade ago, while she was building her empire in the media, Arianna Huffington collapsed in her home. When she came to, she had a broken cheekbone and a cut over her eye. She also had a new calling, after doctors told her the only thing wrong with her was that she was totally exhausted.
As she grew the Huffington Post, Huffington also became one of the world's foremost advocates for the importance of healthy sleep habits and work-life balance--and has now launched a second company, Thrive Global, dedicated to those concepts.
During a far-reaching interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at an iConic event sponsored by Inc.com and CNBC, she talked about the importance of sleep--and seven things you should never do when you're tired.
1. Don't hire people.
Love her or hate her, you can't take away the fact that Huffington built a groundbreaking company, grew it, and ultimately sold it for $315 million. She's a true entrepreneur. When Sorkin asked her the biggest thing she'd learned about business, she cited the importance of hiring well. One of her big takeaways about hiring?
"The biggest mistakes are always hiring mistakes," she said. "One of the things I learned, never interview when you're tired. My biggest [hiring mistakes were when] I just wanted to cross one more thing off my to-do list and say this is done, this position is filled. Only interview when you're fully recharged."
2. Don't make important decisions.
This interview was in June, just before Travis Kalanick was forced out at Uber--but Huffington had been working with him to try and turn things around and save his position. (It's amazing how quickly things start to seem dated, right?) In any event, Huffington said working with him was about learning to make decisions when you're well-rested.
"He started recognizing how differently he made decisions when he had gotten enough sleep," Huffington said, recalling a time a week before when Kalanick had interrupted a meeting to say he wanted to meditate before deciding something. "Literally, he went into a lactation room that happened to be open, because they don't have meditation rooms yet. This is part of the change that's coming. I believe every company soon will have a meditation-slash-nap room. They'll be as common as conference rooms."
3. Don't try to lose weight.
What's the best way to reenergize: meditation, sleep, or working out? Sorkin asked Huffington. Her answer is complicated by one factor: whether you're actually an accomplished meditator.
If so, she says meditation comes first. If not, take a nap. But working out comes in a distant third. In fact, she says that if your goal is to lose weight, sleep is more important than exercise.
"If you wake up too early, your body will crave sugar and carbs. You're better off getting more sleep," she said.
4. Don't keep your phone in your room.
If you do nothing else, Huffington suggests turning off all electronic devices and leaving them outside your bedroom before you go to sleep.
Not surprisingly, the first item for sale on Thrive Global is a phone charging station that "looks like a little phone blanket," she said.
5. Don't skimp on sleep.
This one seems obvious--if you're tired, you should probably sleep more. But as Huffington points out, the idea of getting more sleep becomes even more important when you're somebody who hasn't gotten enough sleep recently.
The reverse works as well, she said, noting that the night before her iConic interview, she'd actually had less than her normal eight hours of sleep because she'd flown in from Los Angeles.
"I really don't separate my work and life," she said. "I love my work, so all I need is my eight hours of sleep, which I get 95 percent of the time. I think the great thing is if you get all the sleep you need normally, it's OK [to fall short occasionally]. You have reserves."
6. Don't try to run a company.
Beyond her contention that it's harder to make good decisions when you're tired, Huffington points out that if the boss doesn't model rest and regeneration as a goal, then it's a lot harder for anyone else working for him or her to do so.
Case in point: Jeff Bezos, who gave an interview to Huffington's Thrive Global last year in which he professed to try to get eight hours of sleep each night, because that's the amount he says is required "to feel energized and excited."
I don't know how that translates into the culture at Amazon, but at least if you work there, you can point to the CEO saying sleep is important.
7. Don't try to run a country.
Yes, this is a dig at President Trump. But what do you expect? We're talking about Arianna Huffington here.
She's been making the case that Trump is sleep deprived, as evidenced by his 6 a.m. Tweetstorms and by his contention that he sleeps only a few hours each night. But his behavior has sparked a conversation, Huffington says: "It might be his greatest contribution."