As the co-founder and editor-in-chief of online news aggregator The Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of 13 books, Arianna Huffington certainly qualifies as an expert on the tools needed to run a successful business. But these days, her answer is coming as a surprise as she touts her top performance enhancer: Sleep!
Fresh on the heels of her April 5 book release, “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time,” Huffington visited Belmont’s campus last Friday, bringing words of encouragement and wisdom to a group of students attending her Sleep Revolution College Tour as well as to local business leaders and community guests attending the Executive Learning Network‘s Spring Leadership Luncheon.
The Sleep Revolution fair, held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Beaman Rec Gym, featured several booths offering giveaways and information on sleep and restfulness as well as a brief talk from Huffington, who also brought hundreds of copies of her recent book to hand out to attendees. She noted that this time of year is especially tough on college students, who by nature tend to stay up late, and who now face sleep deprivation spurred by final exams and end-of-semester project deadlines. “You have to convince yourself,” she said, “that sleep is essential… Read the science about how much easier it is to retrieve memories and information when your brains are recharged by sleep.”
Huffington also took a moment to introduce Belmont senior music business major Alex Beasley, pictured with the author above, who was recently named an editor-at-large for Huffington Post after contributing blog posts on her own health, fitness and sleep routines.
At the Spring Leadership Luncheon, Huffington shared that her research into sleep and its impact came after she collapsed herself from exhaustion, causing a broken cheekbone. “One of the things that makes it harder to sleep is our addiction to technology,” she said, admitting that as the head of a global media company that’s active in 15 countries she travels with two iPhones and an iPad to stay connected. “We’re drowning in data but starved for wisdom.”
However, she also noted that her new habits involve a digital detox every night, turning off all of her devices and placing them outside her bedroom at least 30 minutes before she turns out the lights. Interestingly, she also pointed out that two of the top three auto-completes on Google when entering, “Why am I…,” are “so tired” and “always tired.” Her research indicated that 99 percent of the population requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night but few actually get it.
During her talk, Huffington also mentioned that she’d read and enjoyed Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher’s 2008 book, “Life Is a Gift,” about interviews he and his wife Judy conducted with more than 100 hospice patients. “Reading about death before you go to be is actually great,” Huffington said. “It really puts life into perspective.”