Arianna Huffington's Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Good Night's Sleep
If anyone knows what dreams are made of, it's Arianna Huffington.
The co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post also happens to be a pro at getting a good night's sleep; her latest book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, talks about everything from sleep disorders to what you should (and shouldn't) do before hitting the sheets. But getting a solid eight hours takes much more than just trying to get in bed by 10 p.m. Your sleep prep actually starts as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.
When we spoke with Huffington, she told us exactly what she does during the day to ensure a night without counting sheep. Ready to catch some zzzs?
1. Rethink Your Alarm Clock
"A good night's sleep is really shaped during the day," Huffington says. And that starts with how you're awoken from your slumber.
"95 percent of the time, I wake up before my alarm. I set one just in case, but almost always wake up before it goes off, ready to get up. It's a much better way to wake up," she says. "Think about the word 'alarm' - it means you're starting off the day in a fight-or-flight response. It makes cortisol, the stress hormone, flood your body, and that can't possibly be good for you. So even before anything else happens in our day, you're already in an alarmed, stressed out-mode."
If you've yet to reach the wake-up-pleasantly-before-your-alarm-goes-off phase, there's another option. Instead of a typical in-your-face alarm clock with all the noises you don't want to hear before the sun rises (or ever), try one of Philip's Wake-Up Light options ($69-$169). They slowly get brighter and brighter, imitating sunlight while playing pleasant, soothing sounds.
2. Push Pause on All Tech
Who wants to wake up to work emails? Nobody. Huffington says to keep your technology at a distance before you really need to check in.
"Don't wake up and immediately reach for your phone. That's really a major point," she says. "It means you're instantly going to what the world wants from you instead of thinking about what your intentions are and what you want to accomplish during the day."
Speaking of your intentions...
3. Practice Morning Mindfulness
Ease your mind into the day by thinking about what your goals are. And not only that, but what you want to get out of your day.
"It's not always about what I want to accomplish, but it's how I want to show up during the day," Huffington says. "It's also not just what we want to achieve, but the kind of quality we want to bring to our day like joy, gratitude, and presence with others."
4. Get Your Move On
You knew this one was coming. It's time to start making exercise part of your morning routine. One of the biggest sleep disruptors is stress, says Huffington. And one of the best ways to combat stress? Working out.
"The whole principle here is how to avoid stress building up throughout the day. Stress is part of life - we're not going to eliminate it," she says. "But I think what makes it hard to go to sleep at night is when stress accumulates during the day and we don't do anything to process it and get it out of our system."
This doesn't mean you have to run a marathon first thing every morning. Just get a little movement in and you'll be good to go.
"I do my meditation in the morning and 30 minutes of stationary biking when I'm at home and not traveling. I also do some stretching, even if it's 5 to 10 minutes of yoga," she says. "That's my ideal morning, but I want to make it very clear that like all of us, I'm a work in progress. It's not like I do these things every morning. I do them when I'm home, but when I travel I try to schedule time to go to the gym or go on a walk just to incorporate some movement into my day."
Can't find time to work out? Huffington recommends taking walking meetings at work when it's nice outside rather than meeting somewhere in the office.
5. Set a Coffee Cut-Off Time
This step makes us very sad, because, well, coffee. Huffington is just as obsessed with coffee as the rest of us, but she does have one rule: Cut yourself off at a certain time every day so you'll sleep better later on.
"I love coffee. I don't think coffee is the problem - I think the problem is having coffee after 2 p.m.," she says. "You can have coffee after then if you want, but make sure it's not caffeinated. Also, making sure you don't have any energy drinks - those are the worst. They're mixed with an enormous amount of sugar."
6. Rediscover the Power of a Good Nap
Anybody who's ever heard about The Huffington Post's special nap rooms knows that the Queen of Sleep appreciates a nice afternoon snooze.
"I'm definitely a napper. Especially if I didn't get a full night's sleep because I'm jet-lagged or something unexpected happened," Huffington says. "When I do nap, I keep them to 30 minutes or less."
Keeping your naps short prevents that disorienting groggy feeling you can get afterward. And they'll also help you fall asleep at a normal time later on.
7. Create a Bedtime Ritual - and Stick With It
Huffington says the transition to bedtime is the key to a good night's sleep, so take the time to make it count.
"My transition started with 5 minutes, and now it's 30 minutes," she says. "I turn off all my devices and gently escort them out of my bedroom. Then I have a hot bath with Epsom salt and flickering candles to really begin to slow down my brain."
Next, make sure you're not crawling into the sheets wearing something uncomfortable.
"I wear sleep clothes, like jammies or a night dress - even a special t-shirt. Make sure it's something different from what you're wearing to the gym," she says.
And if you want to read before bed, grab a literal page-turner.
"I only read physical books in bed - no screens. That's absolutely key," she says. "I love the feeling of dozing off while I'm reading and waking up to the book on the floor. And when I read, it's nothing related to work."
Getting sleepy? We are, too. Follow these tips and you'll be snoring in no time.