Some people say they don't need much sleep. I am not one of them. Others say to power through sleep deprivation with caffeine. That just makes me tired and wired.
"Exercise!" they say. Sorry. I hurt myself the last time I tried that. I was too tired and I become an injury-prone klutz when I'm exhausted.
In my experience, there is nothing like getting a good night's sleep for maximum productivity, alertness and well-being. I know it's not easy getting a full night's sleep when the world toils 'round the clock and immediate action is always required. Our wonderful devices, and they are wonderful, have connected us in ways that continue to amaze. Sleep vs. Success: I get it.
But sleep needs an advocate, too, and now it has one. At a recent event hosted by the terrific networking organization Business Chicks, several hundred people listened as Arianna Huffington spoke about the critical need for proper rest. Her new book, The Sleep Revolution, will be out on April 5, and will be an important read for the sleep-deprived, which is pretty much all of us. Finally, here's a health trend that I can get behind!
Ms. Huffington's story of collapse from exhaustion is a cautionary tale of what happens when humans push themselves beyond what the body can take. She makes the point that finding herself on the floor of her office in a pool of her own blood, was not the definition of a successful life. She has used her personal and dramatic wake-up call to focus on the topic of sleep in modern life and the havoc that lack of it can wreak.
As a woman who is a business owner myself, I fully understand that the demands and worry of being the one who needs to make it all happen and has the ultimate responsibility for everything can be daunting. A casualty on the road to success is sleep. What to do?
As a start, for me, it's been a small thing that has yielded big results: When I'm able to do it, I fit in an afternoon nap. It takes only 10-20 minutes of eyes closed, lights out and light sleep to gain immediate refreshment, focus and increased productivity. Even if you don't actually fall asleep, closing your eyes for this short period of relaxed breathing will provide some benefit. I experience what feels like a second start to my day, and it allows me to get things done more quickly and with a clear head. Napping felt like a guilty pleasure at first, but I have guilt no more. It works. More and more forward-thinking companies are installing rest areas and sleeping pods for employees. Hats off to them.
It is an amusing irony that Thomas Edison, the man who invented the lightbulb that allows us to work all night, was a well-documented power-napper. He would talk of needing only three or four hours of sleep per night, but was known for having a cot in his office to catch a few winks every afternoon.
Have your own lightbulb moment. Turn your lights and devices off at a reasonable hour when you can. Take a nap. And, while you're at it, do as Arianna advises and don't have your cell phone on your nightstand. I spruced up my nightstand and now it's a small, welcoming area that makes me feel good. It's a place for a flower, a small alarm clock, a light, a pen and a notepad with a quote from Ferris Bueller on it -- just in case I have any earth-shattering dreams that I need to record. No cell phones, please.
Sleep and nap well. It's important. The world will still be waiting when you awake refreshed and poised for a truly successful life.