How an extra 30 minutes of sleep will change your day

Place your laptop and phone away from the bed. The evening is your time to recharge.

Place your laptop and phone away from the bed. The evening is your time to recharge. Photo: Stocksy

This week, Daily Life has teamed up with Arianna Huffington and Oprah.com to help you get more out of your work and personal life, based on her best-selling book and forthcoming online course, Thrive.

 

You already know that you need seven to nine hours of shut-eye to function at your best, but are you getting it? Probably not.

We now sleep less than we did 30 years ago – and missing out on that vital rest leads to more than just grouchiness.

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Arianna Huffington would know. Addicted to being busy, she would sleep just three hours a night, until one day she was so close to burnout that she fainted from exhaustion and broke her cheekbone on a desk. How about that for a wake-up call? These days, she's committed to promoting a healthier approach. Here are her tips for turning old habits around:

Be religious about sleep

Ever stay up late then curse your alarm when it wakes you up in the morning? Jerry Seinfeld knows your struggle, lamenting that fact that when 'Night Guy' stays up, 'Morning Guy' has to pay. Be kind to your morning self by sticking to a consistent sleep schedule. As Huffington says, "it means learning that 'no' is a complete sentence. That means saying no to that one last drink and no to that one last episode of Game of Thrones.   

Start in increments

A mere 30 minutes extra sleep makes a huge difference – and everybody has 30 minutes more. Cut it out of the time you spend scrolling Instagram or watching YouTube before bed. Bookmark those links, set your set-top box to record, tell your friend you'll chat later and head to bed.  

Have a 'thrive buddy'

Making a lifestyle change is much easier if you have the support of your partner, housemate or a family member. Think of them as your sleep sponsor – someone who can hold you accountable and help you if you're tempted to stay up past your bedtime. "You can call your thrive buddy and they can talk you down," says Huffington.

Unplug

When the current reigning Queen of Online Media tells you to step away from the screen, it's probably best you listen up. The evening is your time to recharge. "At the end of the day, pick a time when you turn off all of your devices and gently escort them out of your bedroom." That means no laptops charging by the bed! Limiting temptations is key.

Nap on the job

Though a 10- to 30-minute nap is a bit of a temporary solution to sleep deprivation – much like caffeine loading or binge sleeping on weekends – you can't deny its restorative and productivity-boosting powers. At Huffington HQ, designated nap rooms are "perpetually full" and more companies such as Google and Nike are encouraging the practice. A short nap can revive the immune system and even zap stress for those who didn't get enough sleep the night before, according to a recent study.

Take a moment to reflect

Consolidating your thoughts – in your head or on paper – can help to let go of stress and anxiety to ensure a good night's sleep. "At the end of each day, think of something that no longer serves you. It could be a grudge you are holding against someone, someone you're angry with, or it can be a project that you started in your head, but you're not really going to do anything about it. It is very liberating to realise you can complete a project by dropping it," says Huffington.

Go to Oprah.com/ThriveFairfax to find out more about the six-week Thrive course. 

Fairfax Media has partnered with Arianna Huffington's Thrive online course and is a participant in the OWN Digital LLC Affiliates program, whereby sites earn fees by advertising and linking to Oprah.com.