Today is the last official day of the HuffPost/Glamour Sleep Challenge 2010... and I ended things by not getting a wink of sleep last night.
No, this was not an act of defiance or the sleep equivalent of a last day of school blowout. It was a twist of fate -- and scheduling.
Last night, HuffPost LA hosted a party in honor of Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough -- and Mika's wonderful new book, All Things At Once, which will resonate with every woman trying to pull off the high wire act of balancing work and family.
Sleep-wise, the trouble was not the party but the fact that Mika and Joe had asked me to co-host the show with them this morning which, since Morning Joe goes live at 6 a.m. Eastern time, meant I had to be at NBC's Burbank studio before 2:30 a.m. for hair and makeup (and had to leave my house around 1:30).
So, in between the last guest leaving the party and my heading to the studio, I did an hour of meditation but didn't actually go to sleep. Talk about missing my 8-hour goal!
Instead of sleeping, I talked about sleep, our Sleep Challenge, and the benefits of changing our sleep-deprived culture. Mika and Joe ended the show as they always do, by asking, "What have we learned today?" I said I'd learned that if you have sleep credit in the bank, you can occasionally get away with missing your goal -- especially if you're having fun.
But here's the thing: because of all the lessons I've learned during the Sleep Challenge, and the newfound importance I've given to getting enough sleep (and the amazing results I've seen from it), I'm not worried that one aberrant night is going to throw me off my new sleep routine.
When it comes to sleep, I'm not going to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to do another hour of meditation... and then, tonight, I am going to get right back to my new sleep schedule -- without guilt.
That's been one of the best things about taking part in our Sleep Challenge: it's given me so much more awareness of the importance of getting enough sleep, and shown me how essential it is to make sleep a priority. Making a sleep appointment -- and treating it as seriously as I would a business appointment or a doctor's appointment -- has really worked for me, and given me a sleep structure and routine I can count on.
I also learned how valuable it is to talk to people about sleep. It's as though you are enlisting the world around you in helping you meet your goal. Not only did people share with me their sleep tips, but having people constantly ask me if I was getting enough sleep or making sure I wasn't drinking coffee after noon or staying up past my scheduled bed time were a wonderful safeguard against falling into old, bad habits.
You don't have to write about your sleep experiences twice a week and publish them on HuffPost and Glamour to get the same benefits. Tell your friends and family about your sleep goals -- put it out there -- and watch how many "sleep angels" start looking out for you and holding you to your sleep commitment. It's like a Field of Sweet Dreams: build it, and they will come (to tuck you in).
Our Sleep Challenge has also helped focus media attention on the seriousness of the issue. I am now regularly asked about sleep and our sleep-deprived culture, and read or watch stories about sleep and sleep deprivation much more often than before. Hopefully we are nearing a tipping point, and more and more people will make getting enough sleep an essential part of their daily -- and nightly -- lives.
And while the official HuffPost/Glamour sleep challenge is coming to an end, our commitment to covering the issue and bringing you the latest sleep-related information will continue.
I'm sticking with it, and I hope you will too.
Thanks to everyone who took part in Sleep Challenge 2010, especially my sleep buddy, Cindi Leive, and her great team at Glamour -- and our HuffPost sleep team, led by Living section editor Alana Elias Kornfeld, who has helped put together quite an encyclopedic collection of information on the subject.
Sweet dreams, everyone...
Follow Arianna Huffington on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ariannahuff