5 surprising sleep tips from Arianna Huffington (like sleep without your spouse!)

After teaching Americans how to Thrive, Arianna Huffington is leading The Sleep Revolution.

The media maven stopped by The Michael Smerconish Program recently to chat about her new book, sharing advice on how to make the most of your night.

“The key thing is that when you are feeling horrible, you are not operating at your best,” said Huffington, 65. “Also, you don’t enjoy your day. And that’s really what I tried to pull together — all the amazing new science that shows that sleep is not negotiable, that in fact we need it not just for our help but for our mental health and for our cognitive abilities, our decision making, our capacity to lead. Everything that matters to us is degraded when we don’t get as much sleep as we need.”

Most people won’t be shocked to learn that, yes, you really do need seven to nine hours of sleep each night — and to take a break from Candy Crush and power off your beloved smartphone before turning out the lights. But Huffington also shared some sage tips that may surprise you:

  1. Sleep solo. “I think this is actually one of the other big romantic illusions, especially American romantic illusions, which is that you need to sleep together with your partner every night no matter what, whether they snore, whether they’re sick, whether they have to get up super early in the morning and wake you up, whether they come to bed late with your iPad. No matter what. And then you wake up resentful and exhausted, and you take it out on the relationship,” Huffington said. And catching your ZZZs in separate beds doesn’t mean you can’t be intimate: “If for whatever reason you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you can still have sex and then go to another room.”
  2. Dress the part. Never underestimate the power of a pajama set. “I used to sleep in my gym clothes, and my body and my brain were getting conflicting messages. Are we going to the gym or are we powering down?” Huffington explained. “So now I have a special nightdress, PJs, even T-shirts, that you only wear in bed.”
  3. Be careful with nightcaps. Some people swear by sip of wine to wind down before tucking themselves in, but “as one scientist put it, a nightcap starts as a sedative, so it kind of puts you in the mood to sleep, but then it changes allegiances halfway through the night and wakes you up, often with a dry mouth,” Huffington warned. “People have different sensitivities, but if you can have your nightcap not immediately before you go to sleep, allow some time to relax, then you are more likely for your digestive system to have processed it.”
  4. Don’t force early a.m. sweat sessions. Prioritizing a workout over rest won’t do your bikini body any favors, Huffington said: “Sometimes people think that they need to go to the gym to lose weight, and they wake up sleep-deprived and drag themselves to the gym. No. Stay in bed, because if you’re sleep-deprived, you’re going to crave all the things that put on weight — carbs and sugars, and all the things that you’re going to have the impulse control to avoid when you are fully recharged.”
  5. Nap if you need to. “At the Huffington Post, we encourage them. We have two nap rooms, and we encourage everyone if they’re tired in the afternoon to go and have a 20 minute nap,” she said. “Incredibly restorative. Winston Churchill of course famously coined the term ‘power nap,’ Charlie Rose says that he naps before every show.” And this boss predicts that in 20 years, nap rooms like her office’s will be as common as conference rooms.

Listen to the full interview on demand. The Michael Smerconish Program airs on SiriusXM’s POTUS (Ch. 124).

For a free 30-day trial, check out siriusxm.com/freeTrial.

Photo via Gratisography

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