Jeff Bezos says it keeps him alert and focused.
Arianna Huffington says it’s one of her secrets to success.
Bill Gates says it fosters his creativeness.
What are these successful people talking about?
But unfortunately for many of us, we subscribe to a very problematic definition of success: the idea that we have to stay up late and wake up early to achieve what we want in life.
Not only is this belief conducive to burnout, but it also hinders our productivity and creativity – which are two key elements of success in the first place.
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and the queen of prioritizing sleep, had a first-hand experience of what sleep deprivation can do to a person:
“In 2007 I fainted from sleep deprivation and exhaustion, hit my head on my desk and broke my cheekbone. I wrote about this experience in my last book, Thrive, and as I went around the world talking about the book, I found that the subject people wanted to discuss most—by far—was sleep.”
Arianna later went on to write her book Sleep Revolution which paved the way for entrepreneurs and companies to re-think the importance of rest.
Sleep isn’t just something that’s nice to have. It’s something we should all focus on if we want to be the most alert, productive, and happiest version of ourselves.
How do we do it? Here are five tips Arianna recommends:
1. Create a sleep transition
This means no electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime.
Staring at a blue light-radiating device before you go to bed can serve as “an alert stimulus that will frustrate your body’s ability to go to sleep later,” said George Brainard, a circadian-rhythm researcher and neurologist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Arianna says setting a specific time in which she turns off her cellphone and places it in another room has helped her tremendously.
2. Have specific clothes for sleeping
Whether its pajamas, a nightgown, or even just a sleep shirt – find something that you can wear when you sleep and only when you sleep.
“Something switches in our brains when we put pajamas on. Slipping them on is a signal to our bodies: Time to shut down. If you wore it to the gym, don’t wear it to bed,” says Arianna.
3. Avoid work-related tasks before bed
“On my nightstand is a pile of books that have absolutely nothing to do with work. They’re novels, poetry, and spirituality.”
You see, we have to allow our bodies to slowly wind down by focusing on things that are disconnected from our work.
4. No caffeine after 2 p.m.
“Today, caffeine has become a key component of our sleep-deprived culture. But when consumed too late in the day—when we are trying to fight off that afternoon slump—caffeine hinders our ability to fall asleep at night,” Arianna notes.
She says this leads to a never-ending sleep-deprived cycle. Caffeine impedes our body’s ability to wind down and as a result, we end up feeling more tired the next day.
5. Consider keeping a gratitude journal
“I finish my day by writing down three things I’m grateful for,” says Huffington. This small exercise lets her finish her day on a positive note.