Co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Arianna Huffington speaks on stage during the AOL 2015 Newfront on April 28, 2015 in New York City.

Co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Arianna Huffington speaks on stage during the AOL 2015 Newfront on April 28, 2015 in New York City.

As co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, for many years Arianna Huffington led a fast-paced, under-slept life. Then one day, she fainted from exhaustion, seriously injuring herself. With that she began a journey to learn about the importance of sleep — and why our current culture seems to prize sleep deprivation as a symbol of busyness and achievement. In a new book, she argues for a total overhaul of our relationship with sleep, and points to the many areas in which its value is being rediscovered, from education to politics.

Guests

  • Arianna Huffington Co-founder, president, and editor-in-chief, Huffington Post Media Group

Read An Excerpt

Excerpted from THE SLEEP REVOLUTION by Arianna Huffington. Copyright © 2016 by Christabella, LLC. Published by Harmony Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

The Sleep Revolution

Transcript

  • 11:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Arianna Huffington is CEO of a major media company, an accomplished author and a mother. Nine years ago, she had just finished a whirlwind tour of work and travel when she collapsed from exhaustion. Soon afterwards, Huffington decided to make major changes in her sleep schedule. She now gets between seven and eight hours of sleep every night, thanks to a bedtime routine that includes mindful breathing and no smartphones on her nightstand.

  • 11:07:32

    MS. DIANE REHMHer new book is titled "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At A Time." Arianna Huffington joins me from a studio at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. You are welcome, as always, to be part of the program. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send your email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And Arianna, it's so good to have you with us.

  • 11:08:08

    MS. ARIANNA HUFFINGTONDiane, it's so good to be with you. I only wish I was there in person.

  • 11:08:14

    REHMI do as well. But I will see you before long. We both know that. Arianna, tell us what happened to you. Tell us what lead up to it and then what happened to you to bring you to focus on sleep.

  • 11:08:37

    HUFFINGTONSo the week before my collapse, I was going around colleges with my oldest daughter, Christina, for her to pick, you know, the colleges she wanted to apply to and our ground rule was that I would just be completely present with her, not be on my Blackberrys, not be working during the tour. The result was that I would get back to the hotel. She would go to sleep and I would start working. That sort of compounded the general exhaustion and sleep deficit that I was carrying anyway from two years of building The Huffington Post and being a single mom.

  • 11:09:25

    HUFFINGTONSo when I woke up the morning I was back at home, I had to do a morning show on CNN. Got back, felt cold and get up to try and get a sweater and collapsed, hit my head on the way down, broke my cheekbone. And that is really the beginning. Once I got the diagnosis, which is that it wasn't anything more serious than burnout, as the doctors put it, I realized that burnout is actually modern civilization's disease and that thousands of people are suffering from it. In fact, Diane, last year was kind of an amazing year when we had executive after executive collapsing, you know.

  • 11:10:20

    HUFFINGTONOne on stage, like the BMW CEO, one on a treadmill, like the United CEO, et cetera, et cetera. So it seems as though we are becoming more aware of the casualties of this unsustainable way of living.

  • 11:10:38

    REHMYou know, you say in the book that 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. They get less than the minimum seven hours of sleep at night. Are you talking, do you believe -- but, you know, you've already mentioned a few people. I wonder what group of Americans you're talking about. Are you talking about younger people who are on that treadmill? Are you talking about the whole of society?

  • 11:11:19

    HUFFINGTONIt's actually that whole society. I mean, here I am at Stanford and I spoke at the Stanford Business School and I was told by so many of the students there that Silicon Valley, for example, and the entrepreneurial culture is fueled by burnout. And they were telling me stories of how many students are suffering from meningitis or whooping cough or other preventable diseases to which we are much more susceptible when we are exhausted because our immune system is suppressed.

  • 11:11:56

    HUFFINGTONBut then, if you go to the financial sector, again, the boiler room of burnout. If you go to colleges, students in many, many colleges have this motto, grades, social life, sleep, pick two. And they don't pick sleep and now they're finding that sleep deprivation is at the heart of a lot of mental health issues, like depression, anxiety. That's why, Diane, we're doing a college tour and we are bringing the sleep revolution to a 100 colleges. I'm not going to all of them. But the idea is to bring new awareness to college students about the new science around sleep.

  • 11:12:39

    HUFFINGTONAnd it's interesting that I'm at Stanford now because Stanford was home to the first scientific sleep center.

  • 11:12:47

    REHMDr. Dement headed that up and I interviewed him and a number of other sleep professionals years and years ago because I, too, was fascinated with the sleep and what it gave us. My own doctor tells me when I get the flu or when I get a cold that healing happens in sleep and that's why it becomes so important once you do get sick.

  • 11:13:27

    HUFFINGTONExactly. And also, recovery, any kind of recovery, happens during sleep. In fact, two days ago here at Stanford, we had a discussion. Dr. Dement was present, just an amazing pioneer in this field.

  • 11:13:46

    REHMHe really is.

  • 11:13:47

    HUFFINGTONYes. And the discussion was between me and Andre Iguodala, who is the MVP of the Golden State Warriors and who attributes his success in the game to sleep, to the fact that he now gets eight hours sleep and he had the data to prove it. And it was a fascinating discussion because he was telling us how the problem with so many athletes is not working out, is not being ready for the game, but recovering quickly enough. And it's the same point you made about healing. And all the new science -- now we have 2500 scientific sleep centers in this country alone -- proves that sleep is not negotiable, that it is essential both for our bodies and for our brain.

  • 11:14:43

    HUFFINGTONSo whether we care about our health for our cognitive performance, it is key.

  • 11:14:49

    REHMArianna, once you had this incident where you broke your cheekbone, how did you then begin to change your habits?

  • 11:15:04

    HUFFINGTONWell, Diane, that's a great question. I actually did not begin to change my habits until I was absolutely convinced of how essential it was. So in a sense, that's why I structured the book the way I did. That's why once I explained the crisis, I moved into the science and then the history to explain how we got to devalue sleep before I went to the section of giving people the tools and techniques to change our habits the way I did because I believe it's very important, especially for all the people listening to your show who are very smart and operating a lot from our heads to know the why before they look at the how because if we're not convinced of the why it matters, we're not going to make the small changes in our lives that are essential to change our habits.

  • 11:16:05

    HUFFINGTONOnce I was convinced of the why, I started taking microscopic steps. I didn't do anything big and transformational right away. Like, I started adding 30 minutes of sleep every night and the most important thing I did that is my most significant recommendation is to pick a time, even if it is five minutes before you're going to turn off the lights, and power down all your devices and gently escort them out of your bedroom.

  • 11:16:42

    HUFFINGTONIf you are in a college dorm, put them as far away from your bed as possible so you can't reach them if you wake up in the middle of the night and you can't go back to sleep immediately, in which case all of us, because we are a little addicted to our devices, attempt it, to go to our smartphone, start checking emails or texts and checking social media.

  • 11:17:08

    REHMOne thing that I have added to my sleep preparation is to turn on classical music, to do away with words completely to make sure that I have toned down my brain so all I'm listening is beautiful classical music.

  • 11:17:37

    HUFFINGTONI love that, Diane. And, in fact, I have a section in the book of 12 pieces of music and meditations if you are okay listening to words that you can choose from.

  • 11:17:50

    REHMArianna Huffington, co-founder, president, editor in chief of The Huffington Post. Her new book is titled, "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At A Time." Stay with us.

  • 11:20:01

    REHMWelcome back. Arianna Huffington is my guest. She and I have a very, very long relationship. In fact she is the author of 15 books. One of the first on which I had the pleasure of being with you was your biography of Picasso, and it was really quite a sensation that put Arianna Huffington absolutely out there and on people's map. She is co-founder, president, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and her new book is titled "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time."

  • 11:20:58

    REHMArianna, one thing that I'm so fascinated with that you write about, you say people who get six hours of sleep a night are 23 percent more likely to be overweight, and those who get less than four hours of sleep per night are 73 percent more likely to be overweight. Tell me where that research comes from.

  • 11:21:34

    HUFFINGTONOh, you know, that's been done, a lot of research on weight and sleep in many places, including the Mayo Clinic. And it is a universal conclusion that if all you care about is maintaining weight, your weight, or losing weight, it's more important to get enough sleep than to exercise, which goes very much against what we believe culturally because we've convinced the world, whether we do it or not, that exercise and nutrition are important. But the third leg of the stool is sleep, and when it comes to weight, when we're sleep-deprived, we crave the very things that put on weight, carbs and sugars.

  • 11:22:21

    HUFFINGTONAnd therefore it becomes much harder to lose weight. So if you put your alarm on to wake up before you had what most of us need, which is seven to nine hours of sleep, stop doing it and sleep in instead of going to the gym. Now I love going to the gym, and I highly recommend it, don't get me wrong, but if you have to choose, and I don't think we have to choose once we prioritize these things and deal with our discretionary time differently because then I was holding a clinic in Harlem, in a church, and I was talking to about 200 people, many of them women, almost all of them overweight, who told me the same story, that they would come back from one or two jobs, and as one woman put it, this was my time to watch my shows.

  • 11:23:26

    HUFFINGTONAnd so she would spend four hours watching her shows, fall asleep with the TV on. The TV would wake her up in the middle of the night, and then she said I would go to the kitchen and have something sweet because I couldn't go back to sleep. So that's the vicious cycle that led this wonderful woman in her 30s to diabetes and dealing with all these health problems, which are very preventable if we prioritize sleep.

  • 11:23:57

    REHMYou also point out that 63 percent of men who suffered a heart attack also had a sleep disorder. How do you define sleep disorder in that case?

  • 11:24:12

    HUFFINGTONWell, the most common sleep disorder, which unfortunately still remains undiagnosed in many cases, is sleep apnea. People who have trouble breathing properly while they are sleeping have trouble fully recharging, fully going to these deep cycles of sleep, where we really find both deep rest and also I feel where we also find wisdom. I find that when I wake up from a deeply recharging sleep, I make better decisions, I'm more likely to see shortcuts to solving problems, and therefore any leader, whether business or political leader, will be more effective when they are not running on empty.

  • 11:25:09

    REHMDo you ever take naps during the day, very brief naps?

  • 11:25:15

    HUFFINGTONYes, I take naps when I'm jetlagged or for whatever reason I didn't get a good night's sleep. In fact at the Huffington Post, Diane, we encourage naps. We have two nap rooms, and in our Washington office we have a dedicated nap room, as well as a meditation room in the other room.

  • 11:25:38

    REHMOh, I'll have to go visit that.

  • 11:25:39

    HUFFINGTONYou have to go visit, yes.

  • 11:25:40

    REHMI will.

  • 11:25:43

    HUFFINGTONAnd at the beginning, you know, there was reluctance to be seen walking into a nap room, but now we have removed the stigma completely and have made it clear that instead of having a fifth cup of coffee or a third doughnut, you are much better off having a restorative nap.

  • 11:26:05

    REHMAll right, here is an email from Earl. He said, I've tried everything, including all the dos and don'ts involving healthy sleep habits. I do not have much stress, I always exercise, I'm pretty convinced as we age many people simply have lost the ability to stay asleep, similar to short-term memory loss. The only thing that assures me a full night's sleep is medication, which I would rather not take. I would welcome any advice you can offer.

  • 11:26:50

    HUFFINGTONSo I think that the most important conclusion by all the scientists that I've talked to, and as you know, Diane, having read the book, I have talked...

  • 11:27:02

    REHMA great many.

  • 11:27:02

    HUFFINGTONMost of them. And I have 50 pages of scientific and notes that I can convince the most stubborn critic. So the most important thing is to establish a transition ritual to sleep. I don't know if the listener who emailed has children, but those who have children know that when you put your young children to sleep, you don't just drop them into your beds. You give them a bath, you put them in their PJs, you sing them a lullaby. We need to have a similar ritual to ourselves, and most of us don't.

  • 11:27:42

    HUFFINGTONMost of us are on our smartphones until the last minute. Then we turn off the light. And what wakes us up is our brains because our brains have not powered down. So I will share my own ritual. But in the book, I have a menu of multiple choices to choose from because each ritual has to be customized for each one of us.

  • 11:28:05

    REHMOf course.

  • 11:28:06

    HUFFINGTONSo my ritual is to turn off my devices, as I said earlier, and charge them outside the bedroom, lower the lights in my bedroom and my bathroom, have a very hot bath with Epsom salts, and...

  • 11:28:21

    REHMWhy with Epsom salts?

  • 11:28:22

    HUFFINGTONEpsom salts have a de-stressing impact. It's almost like helping you wash away the day. And for me it's kind of a ritualistic, like, beautification ritual. It's almost like, it's almost like saying the day is done.

  • 11:28:39

    REHMI wonder if that comes from your Greek background. Does...

  • 11:28:44

    HUFFINGTONWell definitely in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt they had temples, they had sleep temples when sleep was revered, and people would be bathed before they were, like, draped in white clothes and put to sleep.

  • 11:28:57

    REHMSure.

  • 11:28:58

    HUFFINGTONAnd the incubator dreams. But if you don't like baths, have a shower. All these things can be very, very quick when you're introducing the ritual. They can be five minutes. But now I make mine as long as I feel I need it, until my brain stops being so active. And then I wear, I wear sleep clothes, you know, PJs and night dresses.

  • 11:29:25

    REHMAbsolutely.

  • 11:29:27

    HUFFINGTONNot the same clothes I go to the gym in, which is what I used to do, and I only read physical books in bed. I never bring any screens in bed. And I read books that have nothing to do with work.

  • 11:29:40

    REHMThe screens, we know, really do help to keep us awake. The whole idea of holding a book and simply concentrating on that page and letters certainly works for me. Screens don't. So I heartily agree with you.

  • 11:30:04

    HUFFINGTONIn fact my...

  • 11:30:05

    REHMHere's an email from Peggy. Does Arianna advocate for high schools to start later? My teenage boys get up at 5:45. I go to bed at 10:00, but I know they're up past midnight.

  • 11:30:29

    HUFFINGTONWhat a great question. Yes, I have a whole section in the book about teenagers because their circadian rhythms are different. So when you ask a teenager to start school at 7:00, it's like asking me to be on your show at 4 a.m. And as a result you have a lot of students misdiagnosed with ADHD when in fact they are sleep-deprived. And when you are sleep-deprived, you are not likely to be able to pay attention in the same way.

  • 11:31:05

    HUFFINGTONAnd there is a fantastic movement that's growing now all across the country to start school later. I have all the details in the book, or if the listener wants to contact me at arianna@huffingtonpost.com, I'll send you the details.

  • 11:31:25

    REHMAll right, let's open the phones. Let's go first to Louisville, Kentucky. Hello, Alex, you're on the air.

  • 11:31:33

    ALEXHey, thanks for taking my call.

  • 11:31:36

    REHMSure.

  • 11:31:37

    ALEXThis may have already been addressed to a certain extent, but I work for the railroad, and I'm on call 24 hours a day, pretty much seven days a week, and I get really stressed when I have a window of opportunity to take a nap or to go to sleep, say get home in the middle of the morning, three or four in the morning and try to get some sleep before my kids wake up to go to school so that I can actually see them before I go away again. Is there -- does your guest have any recommendations for trying to combat stressful sleep?

  • 11:32:10

    HUFFINGTONOh, first of all, I think as we're changing the culture around sleep, we -- I would love to talk with you about the practice of having anyone available for 24 hours. This is a barbaric practice that has to be stopped, and we would love to take that on at the Huffington Post because we now the data, we have the science, that shows if you're up for 24 hours, you are drunk. It's the equivalent performance degrading that happens when we're drunk. No employer would want anybody to come to work drunk. Then why are we encouraging them to be up for 24 hours?

  • 11:32:55

    REHMAnd think about interns in hospitals and the way we have pushed them, as well, to 36 hours sometimes.

  • 11:33:07

    HUFFINGTONYes, and we have -- we see the results. We see truck drivers having crashes and accidents and killing people, railroad drivers, medical doctors and nurses. So while we are changing the culture, and I hope your current employers will change their policies, in the meantime what is really important is to use the time you have available to sleep as effectively as possible. And that means introducing your own ritual of the kind that Dan and I were talking about earlier and making sure you know that your children will be okay, and maybe your partner, if there is someone with you who helps take care of the children, can participate so that your sleep can truly be restorative.

  • 11:34:04

    REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Arianna, how would you like Alex in Louisville, Kentucky, to contact you?

  • 11:34:18

    HUFFINGTONSo either you can contact me, Alex, through any of my social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or directly through my email, which is Arianna, with one R and two N's, @huffingtonpost.com.

  • 11:34:31

    REHMAll right, thanks for calling, Alex. Let's go now to Chloe in Durham, North Carolina. You're on the air.

  • 11:34:42

    CHLOEYeah, hi, I'm a pediatric ICU nurse, and I often don't get home until sometimes 9:00 at night, and then I eat dinner and usually don't get to bed until 10:30, 11:00. It can be hard to unwind, as well, sometimes after a busy 12-hour shift. Luckily I only work three days a week, and I wondering if it's beneficial to sleep in on my days off. Sometimes I'll sleep a good 10 hours between shifts, if I don't have to work, and I just wonder if that can decrease the negative effects of sleep deprivation at all.

  • 11:35:16

    REHMSo your question is, can you catch up on sleep.

  • 11:35:22

    CHLOEExactly.

  • 11:35:24

    REHMAnd Arianna, you have a very clear response to that.

  • 11:35:30

    HUFFINGTONSo what scientists say is that you can't catch up literally in terms of the deleterious effects on your body, but you can catch up in the sense of feeling restored and renewed. And what scientists tell us is that we can over-eat, but we cannot over-sleep. Unless you are a narcoleptic or suffering from severe depression, your body will wake you up when you've had enough sleep. So absolutely let yourself sleep in and wake up naturally as much as possible. In fact that is really the ideal to wake up is without an alarm.

  • 11:36:12

    HUFFINGTONJust think of the word alarm. You know, it means that we wake up in a fight or flight response, before anything has even happened. And our body is flooded with the cortisol hormone, which is a stress hormone, and therefore we start our day in a negative way. Now on the days when you are working, how many hours sleep do you get?

  • 11:36:39

    REHMI'm afraid she's no longer with us.

  • 11:36:41

    HUFFINGTONOh, she's gone.

  • 11:36:43

    REHMYeah.

  • 11:36:43

    HUFFINGTONOkay, but that would be interesting, too, to see what she can do to maximize the amount of time she can sleep on the days she's working.

  • 11:36:56

    REHMAnd by the way on that word alarm, once again I awake to classical music, which helps me to wake up a little more slowly, a little more gracefully.

  • 11:37:12

    HUFFINGTONGently.

  • 11:37:13

    REHMAnd therefore not be shocked into waking. Short break here, and when we come back, we have many tweets, many phone calls and emails. We'll get right back to you.

  • 11:40:01

    REHMAnd we're back with Arianna Huffington, co-founder, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group. She's the author of 15 books. The latest, "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time." Arianna, I've been watching you on Skype. During these breaks you use every second to go back to your iPhone or your Blackberry. And people are asking, "How much longer would it have taken Ms. Huffington to build her business if she had taken her own advice in sleeping the recommended amount? The culture of…

  • 11:40:56

    HUFFINGTONWell, that is actually…

  • 11:40:56

    REHM"…American business does not prioritize employees' health, families or happiness. So it's difficult for most of us to stand up to the pressure to conform."

  • 11:41:12

    HUFFINGTONSo first, let's handle the first question first. Because I can unequivocally say, Diane, that I would have been much better as an entrepreneur and a leader if I had gotten enough sleep. And it would have been…

  • 11:41:31

    REHMHow so? What do you mean, Arianna?

  • 11:41:33

    HUFFINGTONBecause I think my decisions would have been smarter.

  • 11:41:36

    REHMSuch as?

  • 11:41:37

    HUFFINGTONI went, such as hiring decisions. I would say categorically that every hiring mistake I made I made when I was exhausted. And if you look around, if you talk to people like Bill Clinton, he says every important mistake I made I made when I was tired. He did not specify what mistakes. But we know that our decision-making ability substantially degraded when we're sleep deprived. We take things more personally. We overreact to things.

  • 11:42:10

    HUFFINGTONSo I could say that I would definitely have been able to do everything I did and maybe a lot more with less damage to my health, my relationships and a lot more joy. I find that now that 95 percent of the time I get enough sleep. I'm a work in progress. I'm certainly not perfect in any way. I am -- I use my time much more efficiently. It's what you said, I -- I'm -- I want to be fully present in what I'm doing.

  • 11:42:42

    HUFFINGTONSo when I'm talking to you, I'm just talking to you and I'm loving every minute because I'm not just going through the motions the way I used to go when I was sleep deprived and kind of sleepwalked through my life. But then in between I can get stuff done and handle things and respond to questions from my office in New York or my daughter saying, what time are you coming home. So I feel we're just much more effective because our energy is not depleted.

  • 11:43:14

    REHMSo here is a tweet for you, Arianna. And it's from Carson, who says, "How does lack of sleep affect our ability to focus on a project? What does lack of sleep do to productivity long term?"

  • 11:43:40

    HUFFINGTONSo it makes it much, much harder for us to really concentrate on a project. It makes our shorter memory impaired. It actually dramatically affects our ability to consolidate memories and to come up with new insights. In fact, the people who are the most effective and most creative are those who are able to be undistracted. I think that what has been called continuous partial attention is a big problem with our modern lives, when we're never fully present.

  • 11:44:28

    HUFFINGTONAnd actually it's all incredibly dangerous as well. Drowsy driving crashes are now on their way up. Last year we had 1.2 million crashes and 8,000 deaths, which is why at Huff Post we've partnered with Uber to launch this campaign against drowsy driving. And encourage people to take it as seriously as they take drunk driving. And the crashes from drunk driving are going down. And we have a petition on change.org that people can take to pledge not to let friends drive drowsy.

  • 11:45:10

    HUFFINGTONBecause, as you know, Diane, a lot of men especially have this macho idea that they can power through, they can get behind the wheel, get a cup of coffee and power through. And it takes two seconds of micro sleep for a dreadful crash to happen.

  • 11:45:26

    REHMAbsolutely. All right. Let's go to Barbara, in Seminole, Fla. You're on the air.

  • 11:45:35

    BARBARAHi. I am a 78-year-old woman. I'm in great shape. I'm slender, but I feel that as I'm aging my sleep habits have really declined. Last night I waited three hours to just sort of like semi sleep. And it's really affecting my daily life. And I have tried everything, I think. I haven't tried the bath yet. But I hope that you have some advice for an aging person, although I hate to admit it.

  • 11:46:06

    HUFFINGTONWell, first of all you sound amazing.

  • 11:46:08

    REHMAnd you know what? Please don't hate to admit your age.

  • 11:46:14

    BARBARAOkay.

  • 11:46:14

    REHMI think it's so important for women, especially women, to speak out about their age, to acknowledge their age. I think denying age has hurt us as a gender. As you know, perhaps, I am 79 years old. I continue to get up at 5:00 o'clock in the morning. I try my best to be in bed by 10:00 o'clock at night. You know, I just really feel strongly about age declaration. Arianna, it's all yours now.

  • 11:46:57

    HUFFINGTONI love that. And let me declare that I'm 65 years old.

  • 11:47:01

    REHMGood for you.

  • 11:47:02

    HUFFINGTONAnd I find that because I'm taking so much better care of myself, I feel much better than I felt when I was in my 30s and 40s. And to your question, I would say one thing categorically and from my heart, you have not tried everything. None of us tried everything. And if you look at the Way Forward section of the book, with all the solutions and the tools and techniques and really try everything available, you will find the combination of things that do it for you.

  • 11:47:41

    HUFFINGTONThe bath might be the answer because you may just need to really slow down your brain. Then taking books to bed that are poetry books and novels, anything that doesn't have anything to do with the modern world and the modern controversies to live through.

  • 11:48:03

    REHMAnd the problems.

  • 11:48:05

    HUFFINGTONAnd the problems. And then not stressing. Here's the other thing, I think what's probably happened now is because for a little while it's been harder for you to fall asleep you begin to stress about it. And you need to refrain that. So you choose to stay awake during that time in your mind because you are reading a beautiful novel. And you -- if you like classical music like Diane and I do, you can play a little classical music in the background while you are reading your novel.

  • 11:48:37

    HUFFINGTONAnd maybe you can light a candle, creating like a little bit of a sacred atmosphere around you with the lights lowered down. And I promise you, little by little, you will lull yourself to sleep. There is a study I quote in the book where they had two -- they use -- they took two groups. The control group was asked to go to sleep normally and try to go back to sleep when they woke up.

  • 11:49:05

    HUFFINGTONThe other group was told that their job, when they woke up in the middle of the night, was to stay awake. And that group went to sleep much faster because they were no longer trying to go to sleep.

  • 11:49:20

    REHMExactly.

  • 11:49:22

    HUFFINGTONAnd I think part of it is that it's -- we need to stop trying to go to sleep, but just prepare ourselves to receive and welcome sleep.

  • 11:49:30

    REHMBarbara, good luck to you.

  • 11:49:32

    BARBARAThank you so much. I'm certainly going to buy your book, Arianna. Thank you.

  • 11:49:33

    REHMAnd, Arianna, I must say for this delightful hour so far, we've talked about the beauty of sleep, the healing of sleep. We haven't talked about this election. Let's talk a little about the process, as you have seen it, the controversies as you have seen them, and how you think this country is fairing as a democracy.

  • 11:50:10

    HUFFINGTONWell, Diane, paradoxically there is actually a connection between sleep deprivation and this election. Let's start with Donald Trump.

  • 11:50:20

    REHMI know.

  • 11:50:20

    HUFFINGTONYou know, he brags that he only gets four hours sleep a night and that he sleeps with his phone because he doesn't want to miss out and he wants to tweet in the middle of the night or retweet Mussolini or whatever it is he's doing. And Donald Trump really displays all the symptoms of what the American Academy of Sleep Medicine considers chronic sleep deprivation. Inability to process even simple information, outbursts of anger, mood swings, paranoid tendencies, regurgitation of incomprehensible pablum, all these are symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

  • 11:51:04

    HUFFINGTONAnd then if you look at other candidates, take Marco Rubio's performance, debate performance in New Hampshire. That, as we found out later, was the result of extreme exhaustion, when he could not retrieve information he knew and kept repeating the same phrases. If you compare his performance in that debate and his performance in the following debate, they were like two different people. It's not that his IQ had suddenly dramatically increased. It shows in a very clear way how degraded our mental capacities are when we're sleep deprived.

  • 11:51:49

    HUFFINGTONAnd also, this whole campaign shows what happens when we operate from the most selfless part of ourselves and we are dealing with trivialities, like the size of our hands or how pretty our wives are. It's really being disconnected from the wiser part of ourselves. And I think this is…

  • 11:52:14

    REHMSo how do you think that that is affecting the whole democratic process toward election of the next president?

  • 11:52:27

    HUFFINGTONI think it is, I think it is a real crisis of democracy to see a presidential campaign, which is supposed to be the time when we're really rethinking what matters in this country, who we are as a people, to be -- to degenerate to the kind of name calling and the trivialities that this campaign has degenerated to. And I feel the media have a responsibility here. Because we have been lured by the ratings of the Donald Trump circus and basically letting him get away with a lot of beliefs which would have been completely unacceptable at another time.

  • 11:53:16

    HUFFINGTONLike the fact that he still is a birther, the fact he wants to ban 1.6 Muslims from this country. He's not really sufficiently challenged, even by our best journalists like Bob Woodward.

  • 11:53:30

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Have you chose a candidate?

  • 11:53:41

    HUFFINGTONWell, I -- in my job as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, overseeing our campaign coverage, covering all candidates fairly and covering Trump as he -- we believe he deserves to be covered, which is by a appending at the end of each story on him an editor's note where we say we want to remind our readers who Donald Trump is, a birther who regularly advocates violence at his rallies, who is a serial misogynist, xenophobe and liar. I think it's very important to remind people of his views and of who he is.

  • 11:54:17

    REHMBut do you do the same thing with other candidates? Do you look at them as carefully? Do you make editorial comments about, say, Hillary Clinton?

  • 11:54:31

    HUFFINGTONOh, absolutely. We make editorial comments about all of them. But there is something uniquely dangerous about Donald Trump because he's -- there's no other candidate in the race at the moment who still believes something which is the political equivalent of believing the Earth is flat, like the president was not born here.

  • 11:54:56

    REHMAnd yet, look at the number of followers he has. To what do you attribute that?

  • 11:55:06

    HUFFINGTONI think in any presidential race you can appeal to people's better angels or their darkest fears. He has clearly appealed to people's darkest fears. But even among his followers, in the last 10 days, there is a loss of momentum. And I think he went too far when he asked that women who have abortions should be punished. And he went so far that he had to retract it, which is kind of unprecedented for him.

  • 11:55:37

    HUFFINGTONAnd that's the other thing, Diane, that sleep deprivation catches up with you. It's a kind of slippery slope. It doesn't remain static. So as you can see, his statements have become more and more absurd and extreme and finally he's showing to the world how dangerous he is.

  • 11:55:58

    REHMSo for you, you are concentrating there on Donald Trump because you see him as sleep deprived. But on the other hand, maybe he simply believes what he says.

  • 11:56:20

    HUFFINGTONOh, no, no, no. We are concentrating on Donald Trump because he's both a buffoon and dangerous. He's a kind of Kim Jong-un equivalent, if you want. You know, you can cover him either way. Sleep deprivation happens to be a very clear way of understanding his erratic behavior. You can say that he really believes everything he says, I mean, Ted Cruz believes everything he says and you may disagree with him, but at least you know where he stands.

  • 11:56:51

    REHMAnd I hope he gets enough sleep. Arianna Huffington, always good to talk with you. And I look forward to seeing you again soon. Her new book is titled, "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time." Thank you so much.

  • 11:57:16

    HUFFINGTONThank you so much, Diane. That is wonderful. Thank you.

  • 11:57:20

    REHMI'll see you again soon. And thanks, all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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