In 2007, acclaimed journalist and founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, suffered “the wake-up call that changed (her) life.” (Sleep Revolution, 2014) It was a major collapse just as she was developing her now famous online news portal. In her book, The Sleep Revolution, she says after much testing, her doctors said the episode was due to exhaustion. Her body could no longer keep up with the incredible demands of consecutive, 18+ hour days with little to no sleep.
She’s not the only celebrity whose health has suffered as a direct result from exhaustion.
Whether an overstimulated schedule is to blame or a routine that has no free time for downtime, if there is one demographic who can relate to “just like us” problems with sleep deprivation, it’s the famous.
Saturday Night Live alum and star of hit series, Parks and Recreation actor Amy Poehler laments, “…I am tired of being tired and talking about how tired I am… I now read articles about how great sleep is and how important it is and I cry because I want it so bad and I am so mad at how great everyone else seems to be at it.” (Yes Please, Oct. 2014).
Like other basic human needs, sleep is a great equalizer. Rich or poor, famous or inconspicuous, everyone and thing needs sleep. Our internal and external environment can get pretty chaotic if we go without. Sleep experts say in addition to the grogginess, irritability and lack of focus you might expect and may have experienced with sleep deprivation, lack of sleep can have long term effects as well.
Dr. Michael J. Breus states in his article, Sleep Habits: More Important Than You Think; Chronic Sleep Deprivation May Harm Health, among other immediate issues, “in the long term, the clinical consequences of untreated sleep disorders are large indeed.” They are associated with numerous, serious medical illnesses, including high blood pressure, heart attack, psychiatric problems including depression and other mood disorders as well as others with life threatening impact.
So if sleep is so important and the lack of it is so detrimental, why is it that even among the well-known sleep is considered as an afterthought?
Arianna’s answer? “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in. Sleep, or how little of it we need, has become a symbol of our prowess. We make a fetish of not getting enough sleep, and we boast about how little sleep we get…” (Thrive, March 2014)
So here’s a thought. When you daydream about what life would be like in the limelight. If you are tempted to compare yourself to the grandeur and lifestyle of your favorite entertainer, remember they need sleep to live, just like you.
*Photo of Gospel recording artist and 4 time Grammy winner, Yolanda Adams with ASTI CEO, Sam Nicolino.
Huffington, A. (2014), The Sleep Revolution
Sleep Your Way to the Top: Thrive Global, 2014