Huffington Rivets Audience with Call for a ‘Sleep Revolution’

Arianna Huffington speaks at Greenwich United Way sole Sisters Luncheon

Arianna Huffington speaks at Greenwich United Way Sole Sisters Luncheon. Photo by John Ferris Robben.


By Chéye Roberson

Sentinel Correspondent


Arianna Huffington, an author and founder of the Huffington Post website, spoke to a sold out audience at the Sole Sisters Luncheon about sleep deprivation, its effects on performance in our daily lives, and ways to improve sleep and increase happiness—the theme of her new book, “The Sleep Revolution.”

All 400 seats were sold out at the luncheon, held on Tuesday at the Greenwich Country Club. Proceeds from ticket sales go to the human services efforts of the Greenwich United Way and the Sole Sisters, whose motto is “Step up to help others step forward.” The Sole Sisters is the women’s initiative for the Greenwich United Way. Everyone in attendance got a free copy of Huffington’s book.

“Arianna being here was extremely special and made it a landmark event for supporting the needs of Greenwich,” said Karen Keegan, the chair of the Greenwich United Way board of directors. “Volunteers have worked so hard for more than a decade to raise awareness and raise support. For this to happen is so exciting.”

“We were privileged to have someone of her stature come and speak at the event,” said David Rabin, the CEO of the Greenwich United Way. “Her message is important, and if you read her book, there are a lot of very stunning revelations in there that people probably don’t know about.”

During her speech, Huffington pointed out that sleep was revered in the religious rites of early cultures, and that this changed some time after the first industrial revolution, when humans were overworked and treated more like machines.

Then she asked the audience who had taken a full day off, including from their devices. No one responded that they had.

“We are better at taking care of our smartphones than taking care of ourselves,” said Huffington. “We pay close attention to our battery life, and when it is at 13 percent we are looking around for an outlet to plug it in and recharge it.”

According to Huffington, you need to allow yourself to recharge, because performance is directly tied to how much we sleep.

So how much sleep is enough? Huffington said that the science shows most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and that you should not feel ashamed if you are someone who needs nine hours of sleep to function well in your day.

“I make sure I get seven to nine hours. Why? Because I can’t stand myself when I don’t get enough sleep,” said Huffington.

Huffington said that women with busy lives should not feel as if the ability to run on three to four hours of sleep is an asset. According to her, it is not worth the added daily stress.

“Everything becomes exaggerated when we are sleep deprived. And sleep deprivation is at the heart of many diseases. You have to stop thinking to be successful, you don’t sleep,” said Huffington. “Like on a plane—put on your own oxygen mask first. This is not selfish. We need to give ourselves permission, and the Sole Sisters to give permission to each other.”

The message resonated with the audience.

“She was sensational,” said Betsy Unger, a Stamford resident and guest in attendance. “She related to her audience and related to the purpose of the Sole Sisters, which is to serve their community. I was very impressed. She was very funny and I knew she would get political and she related the political element to her cause.”

Huffington used Donald Trump as the prime example of what can happen when you suffer from a lack of sleep.

“According to the American Academy of Sleep Deprivation, he has all the symptoms,” she quipped.

Huffington said that toward the end of the day it is helpful to “create a transition ritual for yourself. It doesn’t matter how hokey it is as long as it works for you. Without a transition ritual your mind will keep racing.”

Rabin agreed with Huffington: “You do have to shut down and get in your jammies and let our bodies know that it’s time to go to bed.”

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