The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your Life, One Night at a Time


Arianna Huffington




Kate Wadia, Phase 3 Consulting

Reviewer’s Rating: 

5 out of 5 for any professional working on less than 7 hours per night!

An A-Z of Sleep and Why Z should be Promoted

Arianna Huffington’s success story in turning personal crisis into lifestyle transformation and business leadership revolution is one I’ve been waiting to read for a while. I am not disappointed. For many, I can believe that this could be a life-changing book, just as the author writes from the context of her own life-changing moment of physical collapse, diagnosed as burn-out, and tells her readers (a little and not too much – this book is thoughtfully reader-centric rather than ego-centric) of her reclaim of sleep.

The epilogue poses a simple but stark choice about our values and about the kind of life, as individuals, professionals and family members, that we wish to lead. Throughout her book, Arianna encourages us to see prioritising sleep as a key enabler of personal and organisational success. This is not softly, softly speak, nor does it play on the hard-hitting, go-getting, jet-setting life that she (before the revolution) led.

The book does brilliantly to give convincing reasons to sleep well. Hear the facts on productivity and performance, memory and mentality, health and happiness, relationships and communications. Read “The Sleep Revolution” for personal stories of business leaders discovering sleep, insight into sleep culture in history, tips on how to sleep better and how to engender both familial and organisational habits of sound sleep.

This is a book rather more about the why questions than the how, although the author is helpful with pointers and it excels on the topic of sleep as a read for the professional of today.

As HR professionals, we are egged on with evidence to support us about why to make sleep a key part of business culture. Consider this a double-whammy if you suffer with sleep difficulties and are also busy at your sleep-deprived desk and day-job in an HR or directorship role with responsibility for an organisation’s work-life ethics, policy and practice.

Inevitably there is much focus on technology, noting that sleeping badly is pretty much a post-industrial phenomenon and getting worse it seems with each revolution. In this, as a translator of people technologies for the HR profession, I was particularly interested….

In case you pressed snooze on my headline recommendation to read “The Sleep Revolution” from A-Z absolutely to x-ceptionally and with plenty of y’s to offer and a good dose of Zzz too. But on tech I was disappointed. The chapter “Tech Problems, Tech Solutions” solves the challenge of technology disrupting sleep by encouraging us to turn it off.

An analogy is drawn between the samurai at a Japanese tea ceremony leaving swords outside the tea room door and the modern-day “sword” as our gadgetry staying out of the bedroom. Note the French context in recent months of new employment laws allowing employees the right to request to be left alone out of working hours from the requirement to be switched on.

This seems a necessary part of our battle-plan (if as battle we must see it) but it’s insufficient. Nor does it represent the cutting knife-edge of how to optimise today’s digital workplace.

I think we can do better. Tech is weaponry only when work is war and the digital era is no battle. Digital and people technologies are new and terrific tools of our trade and quite plausibly an emblem of our empathies too. The tea ceremony is after all about the art of refinement.

Do I have suggestions aside from turning it off?

Within my own business directorship, my focus these days is on how to use our technologies not less, but more adeptly in support of all else that there is to enjoy in life. We think about how to use collaborative tools to reduce endless email, talking to each other about personal circadian rhythm and timing of communications (have you asked your key team if they are larks or owls and when they choose to have breakfast with their kids?). We promote ways-of-a-week that are flexible using new-fangled opportunity for cloud-based, travelling, scheduled-ahead means to do things as and when we will.

I don’t refer here to the technology that is specifically designed to help us sleep (plenty ideas in the book though – and I will be making sure everyone at Phase 3 Consulting knows about the f.lux[i] software to limit blue light as the day ends). Instead read this to redress a balance, using all the modern-day wizardry that has the potential to cut down on the effort of work that is not at the heart of our personal talent.

If you operate on less than 7-9 hours per night and you wish yourself, your family and your co-workers to be the best of themselves then invest some of your 119-plus spare this week in reading “The Sleep Revolution”.

My new A-list starts with Zzz…..

Photo credit to Leung Cho Pan
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