Arianna Huffington knows the value of sleep. In 2007, she collapsed from utter exhaustion. Since then, she has committed to eight hours of sleep every night. As Huffington told Parade, "When I get enough sleep, I'm better at everything. I'm better at running The Huffington Post, I'm more creative, I'm less reactive, I'm better with my children."
At least 40 million Americans each year suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems. Sixty percent of people say they don't get enough sleep, while 45 percent say they can't sleep through the night even if they do carve out enough time. In a poll done by The Huffington Post and Parade, approximately 30 percent of the 15,000 respondents claim to sleep less than five hours a night.
You know the benefits of sleeping. Yet you are still having a hard time making it a priority or sleeping soundly through the night. Here are some suggestions to help you get more zzz's and be the best you can be.
- Set an intention. Commit to getting the amount of sleep that is right for you and make it happen. Leave dinners early. Schedule morning meetings later. Turn off the TV. By being clear with your priorities, you can manage your time better and make more sleep actually feasible.
- Set an example as a leader. A lack of sleep is often a badge of honor in our society. If you hear people talking about their lack of sleep, ask them why. Help them see this is not something to be rewarded. Lack of sleep is something to change. Do they need to manage their time better? Is there something going on in their personal life they need support with? Show them the value of sleep. Help them make the right choices to make sleep a priority.
- Keep a journal by the bed. When you have a stroke of genius or something is weighing on your mind, write it down. This will allow you to rest easy, knowing you can address it tomorrow.
- Get the right light. Avoid blue light from digital electronics (e.g., computer, phones, TV, tablets) and get outside for more natural light exposure. The mornings are especially effective, but any is better than none!
- Identify possible fears associated with sleeping. Is there something in your childhood that made you feel like you needed to be lightly sleeping? Assuming you are safe now, keep telling yourself that. Eventually, you'll be able to let your guard down and sleep more soundly. You may even want to consider professional help to identify what the fear might be and work through it in a supportive environment.
- Talk to a doctor. You may be experiencing a condition that could benefit from the help of Western medicine. The support of a doctor may help you live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Sleep is critical for success, and your health. Make sleep a priority. Keep trying different possibilities to make sleep one of your strengths. Use sleep to your advantage. Then, as Huffington jokes in her TED Talk, you can sleep your way to the top!