Happy World Sleep Day! My celebration began last night — because my night sets up how my day goes. The good news on this 12th annual World Sleep Day is that more and more people are celebrating the value of sleep. We’ve reached a pivotal point in the sleep revolution, championed in no small part by Arianna Huffington. People are taking in the truth — backed up by research — that sleep is at the center of our health, our well-being, and our performance. As society has started changing the way we think about sleep, the next step is to actually change our sleep quality.
And what better day than World Sleep Day to take stock of where we are, how far we’ve come, and how far we can still go?
The awareness of the power of sleep has increased; but the amount of sleep we’re actually getting has gone down.
Study after study has shown us the undeniable correlation between sleep quality and our well-being. Poor sleep is associated with increased rates of nearly every known illness and medical condition, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and anxiety, to name just a few.
And the problem is worldwide. According to a study by the RAND Corporation, in just five countries — the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., and Canada — sleep deprivation costs $680 billion dollars.
What it all adds up to is the fact that sleep — and the lack of it — is a global public health crisis. Yes, awareness that sleep is good for us and that we generally need more of it is increasing. But even so, it’s clear we’re still not giving sleep the priority it deserves, both collectively and individually.
We know that getting enough sleep makes us healthier in every way. We know it gives us more energy, improved decision-making abilities, and better overall cognitive function. It makes us more creative, more alert, less stressed, more productive and more kind and empathetic. Why wouldn’t we want to sleep?
This is why I believe in the power of sleep to change more than our individual lives. If you believe in what the research tells us about how sleep changes us, you have to believe in the power of sleep to move our society forward. Through sleep, we can create a world that’s kinder, more compassionate, and more connected.
First, we need to move to the next stage of the sleep revolution, from awareness to action. And we can already see it happening. Advances in technology are allowing us to go beyond just tracking our sleep. It’s not just about data, but what we do with it. And we can now use quality data in ways that help us get quality sleep. Changing sleep habits is hard, but technology is making those changes more effortless.
We also need to change incentives — and we can see that happening, too. It used to be a badge of honor to be loud and proud about how little you sleep. And in many offices and industries, that’s sadly still the case. But we’re also starting to see a new badge of honor, with people proudly competing with their sleep scores or talking about how they prioritize their sleep — because they want to perform at their best. Speaking of competing, I had a SleepIQ® score of 97 last night!
At Sleep Number, where I have been President & CEO since 2012, we start every meeting by sharing our SleepIQ® score, creating a culture in our office where quality sleep is celebrated. One of my favorite examples is when we bring the full-team together — we have a tradition of me sharing my SleepIQ® score from the night before and then asking who can beat it. The person who reports the best sleep the night before receives a prize. I’d be thrilled to see more companies and individuals celebrating the quality sleep of their friends, colleagues, and loved ones.
It’s appropriate that World Sleep Day is always held on the Friday just before the spring equinox. It’s a time of rebirth, renewal and growth. Let’s use this World Sleep Day to celebrate your sleep. Wear this new badge of honor every day. People won’t see these badges on our chests, but on our faces, and in our hearts and our minds. That’s where the power of sleep resides and it is life-changing.
Sleep well, dream big!
Sleep Number® setting: 40; Average SleepIQ® score: 82.