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Arianna Huffington's Advice for Modern Distractions and The Sleep Revolution

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Arianna Huffington for an extended interview to discuss the #SleepRevolution. She was able to expand on her personal experience with sleep deprivation and explained how prioritizing sleep will benefit your education, work, and social life.
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(Video Via TheUrbanMonk.com)

How important is sleep?

Media mogul, author, and actor Arianna Huffington learned the answer to this question the hard way, in the form of a broken cheek bone. Arianna's dedication to raising her daughters and creating the Huffington Post had led her, like many of us, to forego sleep. Her sleep deprivation then caused her to collapse and injure herself-- a literal wake up call that convinced her it was time to make a change.

Through sleep research, Arianna has learned that sleep is equally, if not more, important to success as hard work. Her new book, "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At A Time," examines the crisis that global sleep deprivation has put us in, and provides tips on how to reclaim our mental, physical, and spiritual health through sleep.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Arianna Huffington for an extended interview to discuss the #SleepRevolution. She was able to expand on her personal experience with sleep deprivation and explained how prioritizing sleep will benefit your education, work, and social life.

Sounds great, right?

Be sure to pick up Arianna's book, "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At A Time," to learn more and check out more interviews like this at TheUrbanMonk.com.

View the full interview transcript below:

Pedram:

Hey, Dr. Pedram Shojai back at the Urban Monk here today with Arianna Huffington. You might know her name from the Huffington Post or all the media that she does around the world. She's busy doing a lot of stuff, and she might be talking two minutes here, five minutes here. I got an extended amount of time with her to share with you right here in the show. There's some very interesting things that happen in her crazy busy life that made her stop, slow down, and really adjust her burn rate. It's a really juicy Urban Monk moment, and we got into it here. Enjoy Arianna Huffington. You've got a number of books you've already written. You ran the Huffington Post, syndicated columnist. One of my favorite things is that you're also an actress. You've done a lot of stuff, and so sleep, it's out of left field, but simultaneously, it's so near and dear to a busy person's life. It drove you to really come out to talk about this. Why? How did you get into this?

Arianna:

It started with a painful wake up call when I actually collapsed from sleep deprivation and exhaustion, and hit my head on the way down, broke my cheek bone. Then as I looked around, I saw that I was by no means alone, that burn out is truly the disease of our urban civilization, and that we have come to devalue and scorn something absolutely essential for our bodies, our minds, and our souls, which is sleep. Something which is free and available, and that can transform our health, and our productivity, and our connection with something larger than ourselves has been constantly devalued. First of all, I wrote a book, called Thrive, two years ago that explored the larger definition of success and how we needed to change it to include our well-being and our capacity for wisdom. Then I found that the one thing people really wanted to talk about was sleep, because people may not want to meditate or change their definition of success, but everybody has a relationship with sleep. That's how I decided to delve deeper into the subject and come up with the latest science that is absolutely conclusive about its importance.

Pedram:

Just to be clear, you were obviously just busy. Were you sleeping and having sleepless nights because of just the amount of spin, or was it just your schedule was so hectic and so go, go, go that you didn't stop to take enough time for sleep?

Arianna:

I think mostly the second. I was one of the people who thought I have so much to do, I'm building the Huffington Post, I have two teenage daughters, I'm a single mom. I have to take one of them around colleges to pick colleges to apply to. The one thing that I felt I could sacrifice was sleep and that's often the bargain we make. We have this long list of things to do, and the one thing that seems to be in our control is sleep.

Pedram:

Yeah. Only in our control if we can control our schedule it seems because if you don't make time for sleep, where are you going to get it? You've actually looked at some of this in your book. We talked about pre-industrial sleep and what sleep used to look like and what sleep looks like today and it's not quite the same. Things have changed a lot.

Arianna:

Absolutely. I think the big turning point was the first industrial revolution. In ancient times, we used to revere sleep. Even going to temples to incubate dreams, to get insights about our health, our capacity to make wise decisions, but during the first industrial revolution, we began to think we could treat human beings like machines. The goal in dealing with machines is to minimize down time and that was the beginning of that relationship becoming less and less important. Then we had Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb and thought that [inaudible 00:04:38] could eliminate sleep. Then the digital revolution made things much worse, because we're all slightly addicted to our phones.

Pedram:

Yeah, and information and the barrage of information, you get the fear of missing out. You've got all of this stuff that's happening, that you can't miss out on, and then that boots up into your mind, and it really diminishes the quality of the sleep. Let's get into the actual basis of what sleep is doing quickly. Just draw a circle around that, because then we're going to get into some fun stuff like dreams and the juicy stuff that comes out of sleep, but just the physiological basis. You did a bunch of research on this. What's happening in sleep?

Arianna:

First of all, I appreciate you asking this question, because I actually, myself, structured the book this way. First, I wanted to give the reader, including the most stubborn cynic, all the data about the importance of sleep based on the latest science. We are living in the golden age of sleep science. Among all these amazing new scientific findings, one that I find incredibly fascinating is what happens to our brain. We used to think that while we sleep is a time of inactivity in the brain. Now, we know that it's a time of frenetic activity, and that the brain has two functions, either it is awake and alert, or it is asleep and cleaning up.

All the toxins that accumulate during the day, as we go through life, need to be washed away and that can only happen during sleep. We have to complete all the cycles. One sleep scientist put it, "It's like putting the laundry in the laundry machine." In order to get clean laundry, you have to let it go through all the cycles. If you put the alarm before you've completed the cycles, you are going to end up with dirty and wet laundry. That's how most of us wake up in the morning. The alarm goes, which if you think of it, is actually a terrible word. It's like alarm, you start your day ...

Pedram:

Panicking.

Arianna:

Panic. You start your day in a fight or flight mode with a cortisol hormone, the stress hormone flooding your body before anything has even happened. The minute you realized that this is just very destructive to our health and our capacity to live life with wisdom and joy, than you have a greater incentive to make changes. That's why first of all I want to convince someone of the importance, not just on the surface, "Yeah, yeah. I know sleep is important," but with all the information and the latest science.

Pedram:

Yeah. We're going to get into some peak performance in a minute, because I think there's a really good example that you brought up in your book that we're going to talk about in a minute. We have the physiological basis and making a rational case for sleep is, "Okay. I understand that you're a go-getter, everyone's trying to champion, getting more and more in life, and we all want more." That's kind of our culture, but we actually are better by slowing down. We actually heal, we clear, and we actually ... For our listeners, we had a show with Dr. Daniel Amen. I think it might have been on the Health Bridge where we talked about how we also had meditation wrong. We thought that meditation was when the brain was silent, and then we look at the minds of mediators they're firing like crazy. It's that kind of oxymoron, it's that paradoxical space where you think you're resting, it's when you shut down and all the real good quality work is happening, and we need that.

Arianna:

Absolutely. That is very profound, Pedram. I think it goes to something very deep in modern man and modern woman, which is we think we do everything ourselves. I have this little saying on my desk that says, "Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen." Sleep is one of the times when we let things happen, and amazing things do happen. Problems are resolved during sleep. That's why we have this colloquial phrase, "I'll sleep on it." Often we wake up knowing what to do about something or with some insights. Many inventors and scientists have come up with their inventions during sleep. In fact, Larry Page famously says that he came up with the idea of Google in a dream. "Let It Be" came to the Beatles in a dream. It's just amazing to see how much knowledge and wisdom and inspiration is available to us in the sleep state.

Pedram:

Yeah. It seems like that was the baby that went out with a bath water from the industrial age. Now going into this, as you say, the golden age of sleep science, we're really starting to understand that that is actually cutting into, not just our efficiency, but it's also cutting into our humanity. It's cutting into our ability to get into the depth of who we are, and perceive and feel, and feel psychologically up to par to be able to handle the next day. I'd love to unpack the washing cycle here. You said that there's four phases in this, and I'd love to see what the spin is and what the wash and the rinse is, because that's something most people don't know about sleep, and it's absolutely relevant to what you're going to feel like tomorrow.

Arianna:

Right. That's why now we even have special alarms that wake you up during the lighter stage, because there are the deeper REM stages of sleep, and then there are the lighter stages of sleep. When you wake up, if you have to wake up with an alarm makes a difference because if you wake up during the deeper stage of sleep, that's when you're most disoriented. You know the days when we wake up and we feel we're not entirely in our body and we're not really aligned with ourselves.

Pedram:

Oh yeah.

Arianna:

I think the most important thing for all of us to get is that there are huge consequences when we don't actually go through all the cycles every night and the consequence affect every aspect of our health. There's a connection obviously between sleep deprivation, and hypertension, and diabetes, and heart disease, and cancer, and Alzheimer's, Also, that it affects generically our performance in both in cognitive and physical terms. Yesterday, I was interviewing Andre Iguodala at Stanford and the Golden State Warriors MVP. He has become a passionate sleep evangelist, because when he changed his sleep habits, and went to eight hours a night in a cool room without TVs, without screens, it dramatically impacted his performance. Increasingly now, people have expanded their definition of fitness to also include recovery, and sleep is at the heart of recovery.

Pedram:

I want to unpack some of the stats here, because it's really significant. His playing time increased by 12%. This is from your book. His playing time increased by 12%. His 3-point shot percentage more than doubled. His points per minute went up by 29%, and his free throw percentage increased by 8.9%. This is great because his turnovers, which is all the botches and stuff that we make in our lives, in our business, and things we shouldn't have said in life decreased by 37% per game. Fouls dropped by 45%. I got to say, watching him has been profound because you can actually a shift in his facial structure. You can tell when someone is sleep deprived. You can tell when someone is well-rested.

If you're in business, if you're a mother trying to run a busy family, and you have decisions to make in life, which is all of us, we look at the stats of this basketball player, which is easy to throw up on the board and look at and say, "Holy crap, that actually means a lot in all aspects of his game which equals his life which equals our lives." That's really significant data and that's just from sleeping better. This isn't some growth hormone he took, he's just sleeping.

Arianna:

Exactly. He talks also about the impact it has on his mind and his capacity to process the game. Right now, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, he has this phrase, he says, "He calms everybody down." What he means by that is that when you miss a shot, when you don't do your best, often what happens, both with all of us in life and with an athlete on the court or in the field is that we keep obsessing over it. Instead of moving on and being in the present we're still behind over the misses, over the things we didn't get right. Andre says that when he's fully recharged from a good night's sleep he can move on and say, "Yeah, I made a mistake, but I'm here now and I'm not going to let that mistake make me make another mistake."

Pedram:

Then those mistakes roll into self loathing, those mistakes roll into narratives that drive us into psychology offices across the world because we just keep kicking the can down the road. If you just persistently not get sleep, this eventually becomes a problem. For you, you fell over and broke your face. It was really abrupt, but you start to see the gamut of this in all kinds of symptomatology, I'm assuming. I'm sure you looked a lot at this in terms of where people suffer.

Arianna:

Oh, absolutely. The physical is the more obvious and you can see it immediately, but the mental health problems are very profound. The reason why I wanted to prioritize colleges and the reason we launched a sleep revolution college too, that's going to attach 100 colleges is because I feel that that's the time in college when students feel they can sacrifice sleep. In fact, there is that saying, "Grades, social life, sleep, pick two," which is a complete illusion because if you actually prioritize your sleep, your grades will be better and your social life will be better and you'll have more fun. We also see that the mental health problems that are on the rise in college, depression, anxiety, even suicides are very tied to sleep deprivation. That's the one thing, if we can change the culture, that's my [whole 00:16:12] Pedram, that we can change the cultural norms around sleep so that we can give each other permission to take care of ourselves, because right now, sleeping is seen as a luxury that busy people who are out there winning the game of life cannot afford.

Pedram:

Yeah. There's all these memes that have infiltrated like, "You can rest when you're dead," but that's a recipe to be dead sooner. It's obviously not good logic, but it's infiltrated in a way where we think more is better. We talk about this and I love this concept of conscious capitalism in how certain things are built into the externalities. It's like, okay, here's the success of your business and you have a coal plant, and so the pollution in the air, the pollution in the water, and all the other stuff that you do as an externality, don't worry about that and that just happens to be suffocating the planet. We'll do the same thing with our lives, it's like I got my career, I got my social life, I got all this, sleep, externality, I'll sleep when I'm dead and it creeps up and it gets you. I love the fact that you're doing this with students because they actually have a choice.

My audience knows I'm a new dad, I don't really have a lot of choice a lot of the nights. These guys, they have things, you wake up. Then I started looking at some of the research of how people just get sick and stay sick. Over the years it starts with college with the all-nighters and the benders, then you have kids. Then you're not feeling well but the show must go on. You never catch up on the sleep and then all of a sudden you're in your 40s and 50s and you have all these diagnosable illnesses that are ahead of you now. Sleep, the physiological basis and I want to get into this a little bit because there's the softer side, which I love and we're going to get into, but then there's the hormones. We've got melatonin, you've got ghrelin, you've got leptin. What is happening in the hormonal system that is healing the body that people need to understand? It's like the fountain of youth as far as I'm concerned.

Arianna:

Yes, just two specific things. One is that when we're sleep deprived and our immune system is suppressed so that means that we're much more likely to pick up viruses. The viruses are all around us, some of us get a cold and some of us don't. The only differentiator is how strong is our immune system. You understand that in Chinese medicine that's everything, it's building that immune system so that you can fight whatever is around you. Even if we look at it purely practically, if we want to be on and we get a cold that incapacitates us for two to three days, wouldn't we have been better off to have gotten enough sleep and not have gotten that cold. Even just a simple equation about cost benefits shows that we're doing it wrong. In fact, it's kind of fascinating, because even if you look at it purely as a productivity tool, we are now working harder now than ever.

We've added a week to our work life and last year, we lost 11 days of productivity because people are at work but not really present because they're not as engaged in what they are doing because they're exhausted or they're sick. Healthcare costs, 75% of our healthcare costs and our healthcare problems are because of preventable stress related diseases. Nothing increases our stress faster than sleep deprivation. The hormone cortisol begins to flood our bodies, so inflammation and cortisol go up, immune system is suppressed, that's a recipe for cumulative disease.

Pedram:

Yeah. The tough part about that is once you are sleep deprived and the show must go on, the next day becomes very much saddled with the consumption of stimulants and coffee and usually more sugar just so you can keep going. It's just like being broke and then swiping a high interest credit cared to just keep moving forward and eventually the bill comes due.

Arianna:

Yeah. I'm glad you use it but give you full credit. That's great. It's a tweetable moment, as Oprah says. I love that.

Pedram:

It's our deficit spending, economy, it's our entire way of thinking which is having a burn rate that is absolutely untenable. It's like, I'll catch up on sleep this weekend. We'll go to Hawaii and catch up on sleep. Later, next quarter, who's going to make it that long. It doesn't work that way. You found out the hard way, but I think most people listening to this feel it in their selves, it's like, "I would love some more sleep."

Arianna:

Also, just to bring up the softer part of life, it means that you go through life sleepwalking, like a zombie, checking off the boxes, like going through your to-do list instead of being really present and really bringing joy to what we're doing. I feel it has dramatically transformed my life. If there is one thing that makes it for me now, no longer a matter of discipline, but just a magnet that draws me to get my eight hours a night is the fact that I can't stand myself now when I'm sleep deprived. I can't stand the person I become. I'm not really fully present, more reactive, more moody, much easier to be affected by things going wrong. All the things I don't like, I display and there's nothing I can do about it. It's now, for me, not even a difficult choice to say, not watch House of Cards, but go to sleep, or miss dinner with friends, but go to sleep to wake up in the morning.

People may think that means you're not having fun. No, I'm having so much fun with everything I'm doing in my life. I'm having fun talking with you here now. I'm having fun being on book tour, which some people think is the most exhausting thing to do. Yes, if you are sleep deprived, otherwise it's an incredibly fun thing to do. You interact with new people. You're having conversations. You're learning new ways to package the message, the way you just told me now about the high interest credit card and it's fun. Otherwise, life is not fun.

Pedram:

It's funny when you said this about how you said I'm going to sleep on this. How many times have we say, gotten into a spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend, and then just gone to bed, got up in the morning and like, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I was a jerk. I shouldn't have reacted that way, I was exhausted." A low grade of that is the personalities that everyone's walking around with right now. We're all just, our fuse is shorter and so the lengthening of the fuse is something I think everyone could use. I think ISIS should use. You know what I mean, everyone is just so pissed off all the time nowadays. In our culture it's because we're marching around like crazy people.

So, the paradox, because we're doers. Our culture is all about doing, so are we going to do sleep? It seems like a paradoxycal thing to do. How did you transition into allowing for sleep because I think a lot of people have a hard time when they decide, "Okay, it's time to sleep." They bang away their days, their crazy, crazy time. Then they go to bed with House of Cards on and then wonder why they're not falling asleep.

Arianna:

First of all, I think it is absolutely critical to recognize that you need to transition to sleep. You're a parent of two little children, you don't just drop them into bed. You know that there is a transition. You probably give your son a bath and you put him in his PJs and you read him a story or you sing him a lullaby and you lower the lights. There is a reason for that. That ritual moves your son from doing to being and we need an equivalent ritual to move us from doing to being. Now, I think that ritual is not a cookie cutter ritual, we need to design it for yourselves. I have, as you know, an entire section of the book, the second half of the book, which is full of suggestions of tips, tools, and techniques like a manual from which you can create your own transition salad.

Mine is pretty simple. Thirty minutes before I'm going to go to bed I turn off all my devices and gently escort them out of the bedroom. I lower the lights and I have a very hot bath with Epsom salt and a flickering candle. If I'm particularly wired or anxious about something I prolong the hot bath. I think water has a magical property. If you don't like baths you can have a shower, but something that washes away the day. I love what the bible says, "The evil of today is enough." Whatever happened today, today is done with all the good things and the not so good things and the challenges and the in-completions, now is the time to move into a being modality and really recharge and wake up and be in a doing modality. If our brain remains in a doing mentality, even if we go to sleep, we're going to wake up in the middle of the night because we have not powered down the brain.

Everybody needs to pick their own ritual. I also now have clothes that I only wear to bed, like PJs or a night dress or even a special T-shirt. I used to sleep in my gym clothes and my brain was getting these mixed messages, are we going to bed or are we going to the gym. In bed I only read physical books. I don't read anything on screens and I read books that have nothing to do with work. I don't read about media or politics. I read poetry and philosophy and spiritual literature or novels, so that I can actually move to another world that's not part of my everyday reality.

Pedram:

I love it. You have a deceleration ritual. Just to unpack this a little bit for our listeners. The Epsom salts are doing a lot more than meets the eye, it's the magnesium which helps the sleep. It helps power the mitochondria. It helps detox the body. It helps transition the body and the mind into what you want it to do, which is detox and rest into the evening. You've taken the devices out so your blue light is out. You're doing all these things right and it's become a ritual. Do you travel with Epsom salts because you do travel a lot? I love Epsom salt baths and sometimes I'm out of town and I forget.

Arianna:

... travel with packets of Epsom salt and I travel also with some magnesium powder that I often mix with some hot water and take before I go to sleep. I have actually a little kit always with me that has an [ion 00:28:16] mask, some noise canceling headphones, and some lavender tea. Wherever I am, let's say I'm going to be in a car now going to the next thing on the schedule and I'm feeling suddenly tired, I can close my eyes for five, ten minutes and recharge. It's really becoming more conscious of where we are at because I used to be very unconscious. If you think of it, most of us take better care of our smartphones than we take care of ourselves. We know when our smartphone is operating in the red zone and it's like gets to 13% battery remaining and we get anxious and we look for a recharging shrine, lest anything would happen to our precious smartphone. If you had asked me the day I collapsed, "How are you, Arianna?" I would have said, "Fine," because for me, being perpetually tired and running on empty had become the new normal.

Pedram:

Yeah, and you don't even have a frame of reference to access that part of you that knows that you've gone way past that comfort zone and that your physiology is just so strained and stressed trying to find a way to rob Peter to pay Paul and just get through the next event or whatever it is.

Arianna:

Actually, it's best to explain that this is a Starbucks coffee cup, but I'm filling it with water.

Pedram:

I've noticed.

Arianna:

In case you're viewers think that I'm actually having my fifth cup of coffee, I'm actually ... I keep hydrating myself and that's the only glass around here.

Pedram:

Yeah. No, no, that's great. Coffee's a thing, right? Coffee's a big challenge. I think it's the drug of choice of our culture, obviously, and look, it helps. It helps get energy to get through these bursts and make it through our days, but it's the same kind of deficit spending. It's just a terrible burn rate. You're borrowing energy from tomorrow to get through today. It really puts us in a challenged one down position. Now that you're sleeping better, how is your coffee consumption changed? How's your sugar consumption changed?

Arianna:

Oh, I don't have sugar anymore. I find that when I was sleep deprived, my body and that's scientifically proven now, craved sugar and carbs. In fact, it's kind of ironic, because a lot of people who are trying to lose weight or maintain their weight set the alarm early enough to go to the gym, they would actually do themselves a favor if they just sleep in and forgo the gym. They're more likely to lose weight. I'm all in favor of movement and exercise, but I'm saying if you had to choose, which I hope you don't have to, there's no reason to choose, you're more likely not to crave all the things that put on weight and can lead to obesity and worse. Coffee, I love my coffee in the morning. I had my cup of coffee this morning. The question for me is not having after 2:00pm and not using it during the afternoon lull to power through. I'm a big believer in naps.

If for some reason you have a child that wakes up in the middle of the night, you're jet lagged and you feel tired in the middle of the afternoon, have a nap. At The Huffington Post we have two nap rooms that are perpetually full now. That's something that which is available to us. A 20 minute nap can really reset you for the day.

Pedram:

There's something that needs to get cleared out of our psyche and that's the permission, the permission we give ourselves to take a nap. If you're a type A personality and you're go, go, go and someone's looking over your shoulder, napping and being lazy are often bundled up. It's really hard, I found, for executives and busy people to justify a nap. How much better have these naps made you? You're a busy person. You're a successful person, does it make you a loser when you're napping? It's the opposite.

Arianna:

Absolutely. I think what you said about unbundling these things is absolutely key in order to have a cultural shift. We are now in the middle of this amazing transition when it comes to sleep. It's like going from the Dark Ages of sleep to the Renaissance. This is the transition period, so multiple behaviors are co-existing. The more people who get stuff done, who are successful, who are admired in our culture talk about their need for sleep and how effective it makes them, the more others will be able to give themselves permission. I love the fact that Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft talks about needing eight hours sleep, otherwise he's not as effective as a CEO. Jeff Bezos talks about needing eight hours sleep. Mark Andreessen talks about it. We begin to have more and more successful people coming out of the woodwork, coming out of the closet, if you want, as prioritizing their sleep and that's having a big impact.

Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna introduced a program now at Aetna, for Aetna employees, the third largest health insurance company. They've given them FitBit trackers. It's an opt-in, they don't have to do it, but they can track their sleep and if they get seven hours or more a night they get $25 a night. I think this is not just the money, it's the fact that the CEO of your company wants you to sleep. It's a very different message than what we're used to.

Pedram:

Wow. Actually, when you say Renaissance, it's hard to know that you're in a Renaissance when you're in it because you look back at the 1950s and the Beaver Cleaver generation and it's like everyone's lined up like they're in a school yard, sitting at their desks, doing their thing, banging away, waiting for the alarm to ring so they can go home. We know now, the captains of industry, especially Silicon Valley, but from there we know that that is not as effective as letting people have their own natural rhythm. Some people are not morning people. "Come in at 10:00, it's fine." The data is there and you're in the heart of it. You're in San Francisco right now, you're in the heart of some of this Renaissance thinking. Part of my impetus to do my show and get this is to have this information percolate into mainstream America and really have everyone understand that the answer we know, now it's just a question of how quickly it gets to Main Street USA and the sooner it does, the sooner we save lives, the sooner we help countless, millions of people.

Arianna:

That's such a good point. In fact, I was in Harlem 10 days ago. We took over a church and had a clinic with doctors and people working in the sleep area to answer questions for people who are working two and three jobs, struggling to put food on the table, and talking about getting the information to main street is so critical. They really, honestly believed that if they were getting four hours a night and the reason they're exhausted is because they were not smart and efficient as the high flyers on Wall Street, who they thought were getting four hours and feeling great. Ending that misinformation and having them realize that choosing to sleep, say rather than watching their shows, which they consider their reward, their downtime and they would often fall asleep with the TV on and not really have a restful sleep and crave sweets and put on weight and get diabetes. It becomes a vicious cycle, so getting that information to main street is absolutely key.

Pedram:

One of the longest chapters in your book is on dreams and I love this because dreams are kind of [airy fairy 00:37:08], if you will. Most people I know in business and industry don't even remember their dreams because they're so damn sleep deprived that they're so challenged. Are you an active dreamer? How do you use your dreams? How do you connect with your higher self, your self conscious? What do you do with your dreams to really inspire your growth and carry you into a better person during the day?

Arianna:

I am definitely an active dreamer now that I'm no longer sleep deprived. Let me just stress that I, like all of us, am a work in progress.

Pedram:

Sure.

Arianna:

There are days when, despite my best intentions, I am sleep deprived, but they're fewer and fewer, I would say like 5% of my life. When I'm not sleep deprived I remember my dreams. I have a little dream book by my bed that I travel with, with a pen, with a flashlight so that I can write my dreams down without turning on the light, because the less you disrupt your mode and the less light you have, the more likely you are to stay connected and remember your dreams.

Pedram:

There's some value in the information that doesn't seem logical, but tangential. It's like that crossover synthesis of information that can only happen when you've gotten out of gear and popped out the clutch and then amazing realizations come in. Dolly, Edison, all these guys, Einstein, a lot of these people obviously valued that dream state and wrote about it, but it seems like a lost red headed stepchild to our culture. It's like, dream I've got work to do.

Arianna:

And yet, some of the people we most admire like Steve Jobs talked about how it was after times of Zen meditation, of disconnecting from doing that some of their best ideas that created some of the biggest cultural disruptions came. We have the evidence but it's hard to translate into our lives yet, I think partly because we're still swimming in a culture that uses the language of sleep deprivation and exhaustion to validate what people are doing, like congratulating people for working 24/7. A lot of that is not recognizing that that's the equivalent of going to work drunk. In fact, we launched this campaign against drowsy driving with Uber because while drunk driving and deaths and accidents are going down because of the awareness campaign about drowsy driving, about drunk driving. Drowsy driving crashes were at 2.2 million last year and 8,000 deaths.

Pedram:

Wow.

Arianna:

We have a PSA and we have a pledge on change.org to not drive while drowsy, not let friends while drowsy. Again, to get people to understand you can't power through when you're exhausted.

Pedram:

It's hard. The culture of it would be this would be sponsored by Starbucks, right? How do you actually fix it, becomes the question, because driving drowsy, I think most of us are guilty of it at some point in our lives, it's just life and so the remedy usually is let me go get a cup of coffee, let me take a five hour energy, let me put on another pot of tea, which disrupts the math, but gets us through the day. How do we master sleep? What remedies can we really do? We've mentioned them all throughout the call, but is there any wrap around wisdom that can really help our listeners and our viewers get that there's ways to fix this?

Arianna:

I try to actually structure the ways in the way I structured the book. I start with a crisis, because first of all, we need to become aware of the crisis and the price we pay. Then went into science to bring in all the latest scientific data, and how conclusive it is. It's like with climate change or tobacco, the science is in the data. Sleep is essential to every aspect of our life. Then the history to understand how come we've been dismissing and devaluing it for so long. Then dreams, if you can incorporate the mystery beyond the performance aspects of sleep. Once we've really read all that, we are now ready to go to the section about the how to do it.

If we don't first convince ourselves why we should to it, the how is going to be much harder. We first need to convince ourselves, that's why I beg everybody not to jump to the 'how-to' section without reading the 'why' section, because it's the why section, the truly believing how profoundly important it is that will facilitate changing our habits. I believe in microsteps. I don't believe in overnight transformations, but little changes every night. Start with five minutes before you're going to turn off the lights, turning off your devices and taking them out of your bedroom. Five minutes, it's not like an enormous amount of time, but do include that bath or that shower. Make it a two minute bath or shower, you can speed everything up until you get to the point where the new you draws you to implement these changes every night because you love your life so much more. You have so much fun and joy into everything you do that it draws you.

Pedram:

There's something that you just did that I think is the future of where media might be headed. Here I am telling a captain of media what the hell my opinion is, but the tabloids are like, "Give me three things I could do tonight to get better sleep, and better sex and have a six-pack. Go." You're like, "That's just not how that works because if I don't understand the why I won't be able to really have positive change be built into my behavior." What you've done is you've really created a behavioral model to help understand the why and then get into the evidence so that you've substantiated it. Then it's like, "Okay, great. Now that you get it and you're on board, here's the stuff you can do," which I think is a hell of a lot more relevant and impactful than like, "Here's what to do. I know you're not going to do it, but we'll try telling you again next year."

Arianna:

You are so right, because I think when we really understand the why then every part of ourselves become invested in applying the how and becoming almost like scientists of ourselves, saying, "Hey, I know I have like 12 medications in an index that I suggest as helping you sleep." You may say, "I tried 10 of them and I didn't like them. They don't do it for me, but one of them did it."

Pedram:

That's your thing.

Arianna:

You just have to experiment and discard what doesn't work for you and accept what does.

Pedram:

Yeah, and like what you mentioned, your deceleration ritual is your bath, but for someone it could be standing on their head, it could be stretching, it could be reading a comic book.

Arianna:

Absolutely. It could be breathing. For Andre Iguodala it's a deliberate breathing exercise that he does every night. For someone else it can be specific meditation. We have a meditation that actually my sister reads. She sounds exactly like me. You can play it and it's designed to take you to a deeper place and go to sleep. It may not work for you, there's others that you can try.

Pedram:

I love it. I love what you've done. I love the book. I love that it's principle based and it's also home grown. This started by you being, all the rest of us out there, being crazy and busy and doing all these things and then it just dropped you and it made you have to take a cold, hard look at something that none of us want to look at because it's inconvenient and guess what, it's made you better. It's not like you stopped. It's not like you're sitting at home weaving and not doing anything in the world anymore. You know what I mean, you're still out there, you're just better.

Arianna:

... under a mango tree. In fact, it's made me much more effective in what I'm doing, no question about that. Also, my hope is that people will make these little microscopic changes before they have their own wake up call because I was kind of blessed. My wake up call was bad, but it could have been so much worse. People are collapsing and having heart attacks, or dying on their treadmills, continuing to do, do, do while their body is completely exhausted. It happened most recently with the CEO of United Airlines who ended up with a heart attack on his treadmill. There are a lot of casualties around us. I hope that my example can help others make the changes before something happens that can be prevented.

Pedram:

I love it. It's noble and it is important to understand this, not just the punch list of what to do, but to understand yourself and why this is important for you in life. Arianna, you're delightful. I'm really honored to be able to share your message with our audience. Please tell us where we can find the book and how to get into this world.

Arianna:

Thank you so much, Pedram. You can find it in any book store, on Amazon, on Barnesandnoble.com, wherever books are sold. There's also a site, AriannaHuffington.com and that gives information like when your podcast is on we'll link to it. All the different assets around the book are there. I want to thank you so much for having me on. I really love this conversation. I hope you have a good night's sleep tonight.

Pedram:

You and me both. All right, thanks so much.

Arianna:

Thank you.

Pedram:

Hey, I hope you enjoyed it. Again, AriannaHuffington.com. Great story. Great, great woman, just a powerhouse and she's really practicing what she preaches. I actually had an offline conversation with her after the recording of the show that you just listened to and she's very supportive of our next movie. When I said, "Hey, we got to film it this year," she said, "My calendar's booked and taking on things beyond what I could book out on my calendar is what got me into this mess." I was like, "Hey, I respect that." She is practicing what she preaches and making the right choices to be able to get to sleep and just be better.

Next week, I got Jason Wachob of Mindbodygreen. Fascinating story. Between the two of these it got me really thinking about how I run my health and wellness universe over here, because what we do day-to-day is what we carry into our future. How are you adjusting the way you live, so you can have balance today. You're really going to enjoy that one as well. If you like this one, please share it. Get it out there. This is Pedram Shojai, the Urban Monk, I'll see you next week.