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Sleep & Success: Arianna Huffington TED Talk

Ariana Huffington, a Greek-American columnist and author of thirteen books is known around the world as one of the most powerful women in business. This Arianna Huffington TED Talk shows you exactly why she’s become so powerful.

Nearly 10 years ago, at an event geared toward women in leadership, she made a short presentation at a TED Talk that has garnered nearly 6 million views.

In terms of sleep and success, she says, “My big idea is a very, very small idea that can unlock billions of big ideas that are, at the moment, dormant inside us.”

Read on to learn more about why her very big idea is so powerful to you and your success.

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What’s This Arianna Huffington TED Talk All About?

If you’re like most people, you probably aren’t sleeping enough. 

Huffington believes that overcoming this hurdle is one of the most important keys to your success.

She doesn’t go into detail about sleep cycles, sleep experts, or sleep tips. She simply emphasizes the importance of just doing it. Just sleeping. 

Here are Huffington’s three theories about the benefits of sleep on your life and success.

3 Ways Sleep Helps Success, According to the Arianna Huffington TED Talk

Huffington believes that proper sleep is one of the keys to being successful, no matter what area you’re focused on. 

Here are her three main theories of why sleep leads to success and why a lack of sleep prevents it.

1. Avoid burn-out and potentially serious injury by sleeping more

Huffington learned the harmful effects of poor sleep the hard way.

A few years prior to this TED Talk, she fainted in her office from exhaustion. She hit her head on her desk, broke her cheekbone, got five stitches near her right eye, and woke up in a pool of blood.

It was a serious wake up call, figuratively and literally.

Huffington believes that if you don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to serious physical problems which prevent you from becoming successful.

After her collapse from sleep deprivation, Huffington felt so strongly about the connection between sleep/good health and success that she wrote New York Times Bestseller, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

This book paved the way for her to launch Thrive Global, a media consultancy focused on helping companies unlock their employees’ potential by reducing stress and burnout.

2. Don’t brag about your sleep deficits

In speaking to a crowd of predominantly women, Huffington tells a story of a man she had dinner with and how the man had bragged about how little he slept.

As Huffington explains:

“Unfortunately for men, sleep deprivation has become a virility symbol. I was recently having dinner with a guy who bragged that he had only gotten four hours of sleep the night before. And I felt like saying to him, but I didn’t say it, if you had gotten five, this dinner would have been a lot more interesting.”

Huffington observes that there is a kind of one-up attitude regarding sleep deprivation that is going on and it’s detrimental to your success.

She jokes that if you try to make a breakfast meeting at 8:00, someone will answer that it’s a bit late but they will get a few conference calls in before that, and a game of tennis, and then they could meet for breakfast at 8. 

As Huffington puts it: 

“They think that means they are so incredibly busy and productive but the truth is they are not.”

In Huffington’s experience, it’s this attitude of putting ‘busyness’ before restful sleep that leads to poor decision-making and lack-luster leadership.

“A high IQ does not mean that you are a good leader. The essence of leadership is being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic. And we’ve had far too many icebergs hitting our Titantics”

In short, she sees a lot of terrible decisions being the direct result of sleep deprivation. 

Sleep deprivation is nothing to brag about, at least not if you hope to be successful.

3. Experience Greater Productivity and Joy

In the words of Arianna Huffington:

“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.”

Huffington is very transparent that success, in her mind, doesn’t stop at your career. 

Your personal life must be an integral component of how you define success. The illusive work/life balance gets easier if you sleep more.

She mentions the importance of joy multiple times and stresses that your personal joy is directly impacted by the amount and quality of sleep you get.

On the professional side, Huffington has personal experience with how lack of sleep negatively impacts productivity. Without good productivity, professional success is nearly impossible.

If you want to have a more well-rounded, successful life, sleep is essential. It’s possible to sleep your way to better productivity, smarter decision-making, and joy.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, it doesn’t take a near death experience for you to realize the importance of sleep.

The Arianna Huffington TED Talk concludes with this powerful message,

“As we are facing all the multiple crises in the world at the moment, what is good for us on a personal level, what’s going to bring more joy, gratitude, and effectiveness in our lives and be the best for our own careers is also what is best for the world. So, I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us, to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep.”

Make sure you are getting enough sleep at night if you want to experience success and reach your goals in life.

Want to learn more about how sleep can help you to thrive? Grab a copy of Arianna Huffington’s bestselling book here.