The irony of daylight savings time costing us all an hour of sleep right before this year’s Sleep Awareness Week was not lost on CBS This Morning host Gayle King. To kick off the week, Thrive Global founder and CEO Arianna Huffington joined King and her co-hosts to discuss the importance of sleep awareness.
King shared the latest research from the National Sleep Foundation, which created Sleep Awareness Week, showing that only 27 percent of American adults get the recommended seven to nine hours during the week and only 10 percent prioritize sleep over other daily activities.
Even so, Huffington said the conversation around sleep is headed in the right direction. Huffington started what host John Dickerson called her “crusade” to raise awareness around the importance of sleep after collapsing from exhaustion in 2007. Huffington said that “being perpetually tired had become the new normal,” so she didn’t even realize that anything was wrong until she collapsed.
After this wake-up call, Huffington launched a sleep section at the Huffington Post and, in 2016, founded Thrive Global. At first, Huffington said, “people were wondering ‘why sleep? Who cares about sleep?” These days, she said, “You’re just as likely to read about sleep in the sports pages, because athletes talk about the connection between sleep and performance, or in the business pages.”
With more and more high-performing people in every field opening up about how sleep fuels their success, it’s becoming “cool to talk about getting enough sleep,” Huffington said. “It shows you are prioritizing your performance.” These new sleep role models are replacing a different kind of leader, whom Dickerson described as “the CEOs who were sending emails at all hours of the night.” He mentioned another statistic from the National Sleep Foundation survey, which found that “30 percent of employed adults think sending late night emails show that they care more.”
Huffington pointed out that changing the way people think and talk about sleep is only a part of a larger shift. “The whole connection between well-being and performance is changing,” she said. “People now realize that there is no trade-off between them. That on the contrary, when we take care of ourselves—when, as we say on Thrive, we put on our own oxygen masks first—then everything else is better. Our empathy increases, our decision-making improves, we are not as reactive and as a result, every aspect of our lives improves.”
King pointed out that, while she understands the importance of getting enough sleep, she wishes she could “figure out how to do it.” (Earlier this year, on the Thrive Global podcast, King told Huffington about her difficult sleep schedule and how much of an improvement she feels when she gets enough sleep.)
Huffington then shared two of her favorite sleep microsteps. “One is picking a time at the end of the day when you turn off your phones and gently escort them out of your bedroom,” Huffington said. “You should no longer be sleeping with your phones. And yet 70 percent of people sleep with their phones, and it’s not just the blue light. It’s the fact that our phone is the repository of every problem, every project, and we need to disconnect from that to be able to surrender to sleep.”
Huffington’s second tip focused on the importance of a morning routine. “Most people wake up and the first thing they do, before they take their first fully conscious breath, is go to the phone,” she said. “All neuroscience tells you that even if you take one minute—literally one minute—to set your intention for the day, remember what you’re grateful for, what you’re looking forward to, it changes the tone of the day.”
Both tips are about creating simple transitions into and out of sleep, and how our relationship with technology often robs us of those important moments. Huffington said, “We are becoming more and more addicted to our phones, and people have forgotten that we need a transition to sleep.”
Watch the entire interview on CBS This Morning here.