Arianna Huffington, the cofounder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, calls herself a sleep evangelist.
After collapsing from exhaustion in her home office, she decided to make sleep a priority, and ended up writing a book about it.
She also developed a strict bedtime routine, which she calls a “sacrosanct ritual,” according to an article she wrote for Motto.
After adopting her routine for a week, I learned that making the decision to prioritise sleep and self-care takes as much willpower as pushing myself to run an extra mile, lift heavier weights at the gym, or have salad and soup over a burger and fries for lunch.
Huffington’s routine is elaborate. She starts by escorting her electronic devices out of her bedroom at least 30 minutes before she goes to bed, then takes a hot bath with Epsom salts to de-stress from the day. She then changes into clothes that she specifically designates for sleeping, writes down the things she’s grateful for that day, and then sleeps for eight hours, opting to wake up naturally the next morning without an alarm clock.
When I took on this experiment, I thought it was going to be easy. How hard could taking a hot bath every evening be?
It turns out that it’s just as tempting to skip self-care as it is to skip Sunday morning pilates. Since other work or administrative tasks may seem “more productive,” it can be easy to justify not sleeping more or taking the time to wind down.
But the truth is, if I wasn’t practicing Huffington’s ritual, I’d probably be doing something pointless, like mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. We’ve all read about the negative effects of looking at screens before bed.
Before taking on this experiment, I thought that I was pretty committed to self-care already. But I realised there was a little voice in my head that told me that if I prioritised rest over work, my social life, or exercise, I was going to turn into a lazy person.
But I know understand that at the end of the day, making my health and well-being a priority will only bring positive results to my life, both professionally and personally. The time spent running in the morning and sleeping for an extra hour resulted in much greater productivity than if I had forced myself to semi-read a business article when I really wanted to go to bed.
I understand that as my responsibilities in life evolve and grow, practicing this ritual every day might not be realistic. But if I want to achieve balance in the future, I need to take action now and make it a habit.
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