The glamorization of sleep deprivation is deeply embedded in our culture. Everywhere you turn, sleep deprivation is celebrated, from "You snooze, you lose" to highly burned out people boasting, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." But perhaps those who equate sleep with laziness or lack of dedication can be convinced of the benefits of sleep by looking at what's going on in a world that is the ultimate in pragmatism, where performance and winning are everything: sports. Take Michelle Brooke-Marciniak, an All-American collegiate basketball player at the University of Tennessee who was once named the Final Four's MVP. She went on to play in the WNBA, and then brought her understanding of the link between sleep and performance to the world of business, co-founding the sleepwear and bedding company SHEEX in 2007. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on how being an athlete has informed her experience as an entrepreneur.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer Aniston, who is not only one of our most gifted actors but a lifestyle icon for millions. In a conversation that touched on a range of well-being topics, I couldn't resist asking her about the one that happens to be one of our shared passions: sleep. From her bedtime ritual to her favorite dry shampoo, she shared some of her struggles as well as some of her tips for powering down and getting the sleep she needs.
Kat Duff is the award-winning author of The Alchemy of Illness and The Secret Life of Sleep, which both set out to illuminate experiences often dismissed as private and off limits. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on sleep in ancient cultures, changing attitudes toward sleep over time, and how (and especially how not) to wake someone up.
Gretchen Rubin's new book, out today, is Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits -- to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on how habits can free us, the importance of understanding ourselves, and the 21 strategies we can use to make or break habits -- and in doing so, begin to live the lives we want, not the lives we settle for.
Dr. Michael Breus is a clinical psychologist and author of The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. In answer to my questions, he shared his thoughts on the major obstacles to getting a good night's sleep, the steps you can take to improve your sleep, and the future of sleep technology.
Fotini Markopoulou is a theoretical physicist and hardware tech designer. She is co-founder of Team Turquoise, a wearable tech company that uses research in psycho-physiology to create technology that changes how we perceive, feel and behave. In answer to my questions, she shared her insights on new developments in wearable technology that can help us lead calmer, focused and productive lives.
Mathias Basner is an assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, and the deputy editor of the journal SLEEP. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on the effects of sleep deprivation, the relationship between work and sleep, and the small steps anyone can take to improve their sleep immediately.
Kelly Bulkeley is a dream researcher and visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on the practice of dream incubation, the phrase "sleep on it," and connection between sleep and wakefulness.
Dr. William C. Dement, a professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, is considered the father of sleep medicine. In answer to my questions, he spoke about his early interest in sleep studies, the scientists who inspired him and how the study of sleep has evolved over half a century. Here is a transcript of our conversation.
Roger Ekirch is a professor of history at Virginia Tech and a leading scholar on segmented sleep -- the idea that for much of history people slept into two separate chunks separated by a waking period. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on "normal" insomnia, how technological advances have changed the way we sleep, and why in many ways we're living in a golden age of sleep.