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Quest for sleep unites Arianna Huffington, Andre Iguodala and Stanford students

double-bed-1215004_1920Quick quiz: What's the topic of discussion when you bring together a media entrepreneur, a NBA basketball player and a narcolepsy expert?

Answer: Sleep! Or rather, the lack of it, the importance of it and our quirky cultural norms surrounding that oh-so-essential daily activity.

I was fortunate enough to attend a recent conversation between Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Postand Andre Iguodala, award-winning forward with the Golden State Warriors, who were introduced by Stanford narcolepsy expert Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD.

The occasion was the release of Huffington's book, The Sleep Revolution, which calls for Americans to rethink their relationship with sleep, which is integral to health, mental well-being and performance. Huffington's passion for all-things sleep started when she collapsed, suddenly, due to sheer exhaustion. (For the story, check out her 4-minute 2010 TED talk).

Huffington's story is inspirational. But Iguodala's made me want to grab some special jammies (more on that later) and a cup of chamomile tea and snuggle up in a dark, cool room.

He's always been a great basketball player. But Iguodala said he was able to truly excel after consulting with former Stanford, now University of California, San Francisco sleep expert Cheri Mah. He once stayed up late, rising early to practice and then getting his major chunk of sleep during a 4-hour midday nap.

No more. Now, Iguodala's nap is short, an hour or so. He watches what he eats at night — no spicy or heavy foods right before bed. He's lowered the temperature in his bedroom (which he shares with his wife, Christina). There's no TV. He keeps his bedroom nice and cool. He performs breathing exercises to calm down and has a stretching routine. He reads before going to bed. And the pajamas? He has special ones, ones that he says emphasize the importance of the task.

"You have to put yourself in the right state of mind. It's almost like getting ready to go to work," Iguodala said.

To address his current injury, Iguodala is spending even more time snoozing, a change he attributes to allowing him to return a bit earlier than planned.

Huffington and event organizer Carole Pertofsky, a Stanford wellness educator, challenged the students in the emulate Iguodala — by prioritizing sleep and getting at least 7-8 hours each night as often as they can.

I'm all in. My good friend, Mr. Bed, here I come.

Previously: How to tell if you're sleep deprived, Sleep = one of the keys to Golden State Warriors' success and Superathletes sleep more, says Stanford researcher
Photo by sferrario1968

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