Arianna Huffington is starting a conversation around something so many of us moms talk about on a daily basis, sleep. Her new book, The Sleep Revolution, is transforming the way we view our shut-eye, and challenging the idea that the less time you rest, the more you accomplish.
Arianna’s passion for sleep started in 2007, when she passed out and woke up in a pool of blood from a broken cheekbone with a cut over her eye.
Her diagnosis: exhaustion.
Arianna thought, as a lot of us do, that if you want to be successful in work, family, and life in general, sleep is the first thing to go. However, when she realized how her lifestyle had affected her health, she made the decision to change the way she lived. When Arianna started prioritizing sleep, she was able to show up as a mom, boss and friend like never before. Now, she’s transforming the way we think about sleep and why it’s so important.
Photo by Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post
I originally wanted to interview Arianna Huffington because, well, she’s Arianna Huffington. But after reading her book and listening to countless interviews, I realized that Arianna is so much more than just a name. To me, Arianna is asking questions and bringing awareness around how we’ve been operating in regards to our well-being and why our society is running down a rabbit hole of burnout.
Arianna is leading a true revolution. She has started a new company in the wellness space called Thrive Global that’s fighting for change in our work, family lives, self-care and of course, sleep.
In short, Arianna’s telling us to prioritize our wellness. She’s teaching us that when can do less and achieve more, and that we can get a full night’s rest and be an even better parent, employee, partner, and friend. It’s because of this that I’m so happy to share her insight with you below.
Dive in, dig deep, and listen closely.
Photo by Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post
You mention in your book that your mother was adamant about the importance of sleep for your health and happiness when you were growing up. What were some of the ways that your mother ingrained this in you and what advice do you have for new mothers who want to encourage the same positive sleep habits in their families?
- Yes, she was. Even though my mother and my sister and I shared a one-bedroom apartment, my mother made sure that sleep was prioritized. If someone needed to stay up late, they did it outside the bedroom, so either my sister or I could sleep. And, of course, sleep is always challenging for new mothers. But the way to get good, healthy sleep habits for the family is for the mother – and father – to model those good habits. Not only is that a good example, but it helps parents deal with the inevitable challenges of raising a family. It’s like they say on planes: in the event of an emergency, secure your own oxygen mask first before helping others.
Knowing what you know about the importance of sleep now, how would you have handled the first month differently as a new mom? What practices would you have put in place for yourself to ensure that you got as much sleep as possible?
- Like I said, sleep is hard to come by as a new mother. But if I’d know about all the different – and seemingly endless – benefits of sleep, like decision-making, emotional well-being and being able to be fully present, I would have tried harder (yes, easier said than done). But at the time, there wasn’t as much awareness of sleep as a health issue not just for the baby but for the mother.
With the way America’s maternity leave is set up, many women have to go back to work a month if not a few weeks after giving birth. As a mother you know how little sleep you get when caring for a newborn. How do you think the current maternity status in America is affecting new mother’s health when it comes to lack of sleep and what do you think we can do to fix it?
- America doesn’t have a great infrastructure of support for new mothers – or new families, because all of this should be about including fathers in the mix, too. And this is especially true relative to other countries. So what we need is better family leave policies – for both mothers and fathers. We also need greater access to affordable, quality daycare and universal pre-k. And we also need the fact that sleep is a health issue reflected in health and wellness plans.
Our most popular meditations on Expectful are our pregnancy and new motherhood Sleep Meditations. As an expert on sleep and as someone who’s been meditating since the age of thirteen, why do you think sleep and meditation seem to complement each other so much?
- They’re completely symbiotic. They both help us deal with stress on an ongoing basis, making us more mindful and less likely to react to stressful situations out of emotion or anger.
You admit in your book that you used to work all night, sacrificing sleep so that you could be the perfect mother during the day. What advice do you have for moms who are trying to balance motherhood and career?
- To push their workplaces to prioritize well-being, part of which is acknowledging that families are a key part of this. You shouldn’t have to hide your family and your family needs from work. Families need time and dedication and no business can ultimately succeed by forcing their workers to choose. So, yes, it’s not easy, but change happens slowly, and if they don’t already know it, businesses should be made aware that allowing workers to bring their whole selves to work will ultimately benefit their bottom line.
Are you pregnant or new to motherhood? Expectful is a digital platform that makes meditation easy for expectant and new moms. Each one of our guided meditations has been created to support you throughout your pregnancy and motherhood journey. Our mission is to help you give your baby the best start in life. Go to wp.expectful.com and sign up for our free meditation trial.
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