Want to get ahead? Get more sleep, Huffington says

Too many leaders suffer from sleep deprivation, burnout in pursuit of success

HAY-ON-WYE, Wales (Reuters) — Money and power are all well and good but if you really want to live a successful life, get more sleep and turn the phone off.

That was the message from Arianna Huffington, founder of the online Huffington Post and one of the world's most prominent — and wired-in — businesswomen, to an audience at the Hay Festival of literature and arts, which ended on Sunday.

Political and business leaders across the world, and the people who work for them, are often living lives of sleep deprivation and burnout in pursuit of the two traditional measures of success — money and power, Huffington said.

But those who chase these two goals alone are likely to come crashing down. "This is like trying to sit on a two-legged stool. Sooner or later you fall off," she said.

Huffington should know. Seven years ago, she collapsed from overwork and exhaustion, banging her head as she fell.

"By any sane definition, when you come to in a pool of your own blood... you are not successful," she said on Saturday at the book festival in Wales.

The first result of what she calls her wakeup call was to get more sleep. "It's like a miracle drug," she said.

The Huffington Post newsroom includes two "nap rooms" where journalists can grab 40 winks.

Many in today's hectic working world wear their busy-ness like a badge of honour, Huffington said. Instead, the weary make mistakes and their creativity is blunted.

Too many of us are glued to mobile devices in a bid to get ahead in an increasingly interconnected world.

Huffington has captured her thoughts on how to live a better life in a book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life, which was published in March.

The book recommend four things: well-being, including a good night's sleep, a capacity for wonder, wisdom and giving.

Apart from the nap rooms, the Huffington philosophy manifests itself in the Huffpost newsroom in other ways: when employees are not working, they are not expected to check their emails — the office will call or text if necessary.

And, said Huffington, all Huffpost managers have specific hiring instructions: "No brilliant jerks allowed".

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