Sleep Deprived: We're Recharging Our Phones, But Not Ourselves


Millions of Americans recharge their phones and screens and laptops before they go to bed at night, but do they recharge themselves? Arianna Huffington says we're in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis that creates anxiety as well as exhaustion, depression as well as droopy eyelids and dangerous accidents, poor judgment and prolonged sleep-deprived stupidity.

Don't go back to sleep until you hear this. Her new book, "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time." And Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post joins us from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Thank you so much, Scott. Great to be with you.

SIMON: You had a kind of wake-up call on this subject, didn't you?

HUFFINGTON: Yes, actually nine years ago, April 2007, I collapsed from sleep deprivation and hit my desk on the way down and broke my cheekbone. And that was my wake-up call in terms of changing my own life, understanding the science behind the need for sleep and also looking around and seeing how many millions of us are in similar states of perpetual exhaustion to the point where it becomes the new normal and we don't even notice it.

SIMON: Isn't there a kind of macho, if you please, attached to lack of sleep or people who feel they only need a little sleep to function?

HUFFINGTON: Oh, absolutely. You know, there is a tremendous braggadocio going on. I mean, I had dinner with a guy recently who bragged that he had only gotten four hours sleep the night before. And I didn't say it, but I thought, did you know this dinner would've been a lot more interesting if you had gotten five?

SIMON: (Laughter).

HUFFINGTON: So we hear that a lot. We hear employees being congratulated for working 24/7, which now we know is the cognitive equivalent of coming to work drunk. But it's changing. We are now in this amazing transition period where more and more companies are beginning to realize that living like that and working like that has actually terrible consequences, not just on the health and productivity of their employees but also on their bottom line.

SIMON: You talk about sleep as a basic human right that we have not ranked alongside, you know, the right not to go hungry, the right to freedom of expression, that sort of thing.

HUFFINGTON: Yes, and what is interesting is that it's a right that has been violated both in workplaces where employees have been expected to be perpetually on, especially since the advent of the smartphone, but also which is constantly violated by us because we have so minimized the importance of sleep. So that basic human right that you mention is often violated by us.

SIMON: We can't do an interview with Arianna Huffington at this point and not ask about the 2016 presidential campaign. And I will point out Donald Trump says he just gets by on about four hours of sleep a night. Any reaction to that?

HUFFINGTON: Yes. In fact, he displays every symptom of chronic sleep deprivation as described by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine - difficulty processing information, paranoid tendencies, mood swings. The way he made statements that he actually had to retract, like banishing women who have abortion, shows that sleep deprivation is a slippery slope.

SIMON: You tried to uphold an editorial policy early in the campaign about not covering Donald Trump as a political story but as an entertainment story. Then after, what, a couple - a few weeks or months, you found you couldn't do that.

HUFFINGTON: Well, what happened is that we changed our policy the day that he proposed to ban 1.6 billion Muslims from this country. The day he made this completely un-American pronouncement, we believe that covering him as a clear and present danger was legitimate.

SIMON: How many times have you been doing interviews for this book and somebody has pretended to fall asleep on you?

HUFFINGTON: Oh, it hasn't happened. Are you about to do it (laughter)?

SIMON: (Laughter) I couldn't bring myself to do it, all right?

HUFFINGTON: I would consider it a compliment.

SIMON: Arianna Huffington - her book, "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time." Pleasant dreams to you, Arianna. Thanks so much.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you so much, Scott. Pleasant dreams to you too.

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