To sleep, perchance to dream — William Shakespeare
Arianna wants us all to go to sleep, and she’s not taking no for an answer.
She has a very clear message: without proper sleep life is harder, and what normally may be easeful can become like a weight around our necks. To help us see how many zzz’s we’ve been missing out on, the effect that’s having, and what to do when sleep is elusive, Arianna has written The Sleep Revolution.
We’ve been taught to believe that overworking, even to the point of burnout, is the price one must pay in order to succeed. That mindset is at the heart of what Arianna calls a “national sleep crisis.” After collapsing from exhaustion in 2007, she became a self labeled “sleep evangelist”, saying, “everywhere I go, someone will pull me aside and, often in hushed and conspiratorial tones, confess, ‘I’m just not getting enough sleep, I’m exhausted all the time,’ or ‘I don’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired.’”
But hope is not lost for chronic under-sleepers. Arianna’s book highlights how both science and industry are now appreciating the drawbacks of the age-old motto “you snooze, you lose” versus the benefits of well-rested, quick-thinking productivity, by installing nap rooms at the office. In Arianna’s words, “I must admit there was skepticism when we first put nap rooms in our New York offices in 2011. HuffPosters were reluctant to be seen walking into a nap room in the middle of a bustling newsroom in ‘the city that never sleeps.’ But now the rooms are perpetually full, and we’re spreading the idea around the world, starting with our London office. I expect the nap room to soon become as universal as the conference room.”
The Sleep Revolution argues that one of the simplest ways to get more restful rest is by sleeping in separate rooms from our newest cultural obsession. That’s right, our smartphones. A 2015 survey showed that 71% of Americans sleep next to their smartphones, which not only cycles WIFI signals around the resting brain, but notifications and calls can interrupt sleep several times a night, preventing us from the all-important REM cycle of sleep.
Arianna recommends, “When we walk through the door of our bedroom, it should be a symbolic moment that marks leaving the day, with all of its problems and unfinished business, behind us. When we wake up in the morning, there will be plenty of time for us to deal with our challenges, refreshed and recharged. I treat my transition to sleep as a sacrosanct ritual.”
And if sleep is still elusive, Arianna offers us a window into her own sleeplessness routine, “When I’m really having trouble sleeping, or wake up with thoughts crowding my mind, I’ve found meditation to be a great remedy. If it’s in the middle of the night, I remind myself that that’s precisely when many meditation practitioners, like the Dalai Lama, do it; this both takes the stress out of my wakefulness and adds an extra layer of gratitude to my practice. I have some of my deepest meditation experiences and, inevitably, drift off to sleep at some point.”
And in case you need a few more reasons to join Arianna’s Sleep Revolution, lack of sleep has been proven to poorly affect creativity, memory consolidation, the ability to learn and solve problems, the ability to manage stress and anxiety, and a well-functioning immune system. Sleep deprivation has been found to have a strong connection with practically every mental health disorder we know, especially depression and anxiety.
After reading The Sleep Revolution, fostering more sleep at home seems like a no-brainer and there’s no prescription needed. Small changes, beginning with dispelling the collective delusion that less sleep equals more productivity, can lead to big life shifts and may even make for a complete cultural sleep revolution…just as Arianna planned.