How to Sleep Your Way to the Top and Other Useful Tips

Empty bed.


I recently read the book THRIVE by Arianna Huffington where her tag is that she has finally learned how to sleep her way to the top. Very clever Arianna. Clever indeed. It’s focus is on a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

I had heard about her book a while ago when she was interviewed in a mock store at the Starbucks support center, sipping Oprah Chai with Oprah (cue MASSIVE product placement violation). I thought the talk was interesting, but not inspired enough to read the book.

However, there are moments in time when I become hyper aware of the messages that are being sent my way. Have you ever experienced that? You hear something once and then it shows up again and again and again? I call it putting on my “dog ears” and paying attention.

I was on a flight this spring after an intense engagement with a client. I’d want to relax with a movie. I was exhausted. I was nostalgic for a film I’d seen before, but had forgotten, “Surviving Picasso” with Anthony Hopkins. I am intrigued by his passion and his never-ending desire to remain young and vibrant, to thrive all the way through the end of his life. Then I watched the credits. It was based off the biography of Picasso by ARIANNA HUFFINGTON. Who knew?

And then there were three … I’ve been surrounded by people that simply can’t breath right now. A lot of us 40-something, overwhelmed with life, work and expectations of “success.” Some we created and some imposed. Myself included. To which someone asked me… “have you read THRIVE?”

Okay. I get it. Read the book. And so I did.

It wasn’t new information per se. Eat Right. Sleep More. Get rid of stinkin’ thinkin’. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t we change and slow down?

As humans were not that complicated, motivated by either pleasure or pain. Anything in between can equate inaction.

For Arianna it was pure exhaustion resulting in her collapsing on her desk breaking a cheekbone. She stopped to research what it meant to slow down. In her book, there’s a lot of data to prove the “duh”… why we should slow down:

  • Researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that from 1983 to 2009, there was between a 10 and 30 percent increase in stress levels across all demographic categories.
  • Studies show that U.S. employers spend 200 to 300 percent more on the indirect costs of health care, in the form of absenteeism, sick days, and lower productivity, than they do on actual health care payments.
  • A study published in Science even calculated that for the sleep deprived, an extra hour of sleep can do more for their daily happiness than a $60,000 raise.
  • One study found that meditation can actually increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex region of the brain and slow the thinning that occurs there as we age… what else do you need to know to know that it’s worth it?

For you, what will it be? A broken bone? A relationship lost? Pure overwhelm? Or can you just stop right now and ask yourself… am I breathing or running without breath?

I firmly believe that the teacher presents herself when the student is ready to learn. With all the over stimulus in life right now, I am ready to learn. Are you?

Until you read the book, I’ll offer some tips on how to start creating clarity, focus and breath:


CHOOSE the RIGHT WORK:   WHERE are you spending your time?

  • Carve out an hour for this Friday afternoon. Start with the end in mind. What did I say success was going to look like at the end of this year? (And if you haven’t, start there).
  • Write a comprehensive list of all the things you are working on right now.
  • Which work should you continue doing because it is critical for you achieving your Vision? Of that work, what can you delegate?
  • Which work should you delay or stop doing all together? Because if you really think about it, it doesn’t support your measurement of success.
  • Next Friday? Check in again…


FIND time to BREATH:

Here are some great tips from Austin’s Mindfulness Expert, Paige Davis:

  1. Mindfulness Minutes (1 minute exercises you can do anywhere)  
  2. App Recommendations
  3. 5 Mini Meditations You Can Do Anywhere

You can also visit her site Soul Sparks for a ton of inspiration and insight.

Stay light with tips, tools and insights + receive a FREE guided body awareness meditation by signing up for her newsletter.


And finally… HIT the PILLOW:

Sleep your way to the top by clocking in 7-8 hours a night. Arianna joins many other thought leaders in the plea for recognizing sleep as a critical factor in both our well -being and performance. Julia Kirby, an editor at the Harvard Business Review wrote a great blog, “Change the World and Get to Bed by 10:00,” where a chart likens getting drunk to not sleeping enough, both having roughly the same impact on performance.


So where can you start? For me… it’s wine on the weekends, sleep during the week, meditating daily, and challenging where I’m spending my time. Next time, I’ll let you know how it’s working!






One Comment on “How to Sleep Your Way to the Top and Other Useful Tips”

  1. Gretchen says:

    Linda, so glad to get another insightful post from you! Love that you’re confirming that sleep is important. I need Chad to read this.

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