Review of Arianna Huffington's "The Sleep Revolution"

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, wants us all to know something: we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis and that’s why we think life sucks all the time.

 

Okay, so maybe those weren’t her exact words. Huffington wrote that “simply put: we don’t get enough sleep. And it’s a much bigger problem – with much higher stakes – than many of us realize.”

 

Arianna makes several interesting, but not unfounded, claims about why our lives are lacking sleep. One of the points she makes is that for some reason, lack of sleep is becoming equated to success. “We sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity,” she said, “but ironically, our loss of sleep … adds up to more than eleven days of lost productivity per year per worker,” which was calculated to equal the loss of about $2,280.

 

Another reason for our sleeplessness, according to Arianna, is the ever-present beeping and buzzing of communication technology. The possibility that at any time we can connect with friends, loved ones and even strangers keeps us wired and energized far past the time when we should be resting.

But what’s the damage? As it turns out, the damage is quite sizeable. Huffington wrote that we all have a seizure-threshold and a lack of sleep can cause us to cross this threshold and put us out of commission for quite some time. But it’s not just physical dangers that are posed by sleep deprivation. Nancy Fox, a healthy-food blogger, wrote that when she wasn’t getting enough sleep she was more likely to be on edge and react to small problems as if they were big ones.

 

Okay, okay. So sleeplessness is a problem, we know. But how do we fix it? Arianna suggests several helpful steps on the way to a good night’s sleep. Warning – one of them includes putting your phone away (gasp!), but just hear her out.

 

According to Arianna, the first step in solving our sleep crisis is becoming masters of sleep. One of the first and easiest ways we can do this is by knowing how much sleep we scientifically need. Heads up – this does not equal how much sleep we can fit in between binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy and an 8 a.m. class.

 

Teens from 14 to 17 years old need between eight and ten hours of sleep a night. Whereas, young adults aged 18 to 25 years need seven to nine hours, as do not-so-young adults. Allocating these hours to sleep can help your academic work, athletic performances and sex drive.

 

In 2015, researchers found that how long a woman sleeps at night directly correlates to their level of sexual desire the next day – each additional hour of sleep increases the chance of sexual activity by 14 percent. As for the guys, researchers from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania co-conducted a study in 2010 and reported that about 70 percent of men who had serious problems breathing during sleep (aka snoring or sleep apnea) had decreased sexual desire.

 

To be able to get a much-deserved night of sleep, Arianna suggested cooling your bedroom down to between 60 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit, engaging in regular physical activity, and minimizing the amount of light in and around your sleep spaces.

 

Blue light, which comes from our electronic devices, suppresses the creation of melatonin – the hormone that makes us sleepy. If you absolutely cannot stand to be separated from your phone in those late night hours, there is still hope for you. Some apps can subtly change the amount of blue light your screen uses the closer it gets to bedtime. The warmer light from the screen does not have the same impact on your melatonin levels that the harsh blue light does, and thus won’t impact your sleep so dramatically.

 

So, yeah, it turns out that pulling an all-nighter breaks all of these rules. Thanks, Arianna Huffington. I’ve learned my lesson.