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Arianna Huffington

On technology, Greek wisdom and President Donald Trump's sleep patterns

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She's an author, entrepreneur, journalist and media mogul. Forbes named her one of the most influential women in media (2009) and one of the most powerful women in the world (2014). She is Arianna Huffington.

Born Arianna Stasinopoulou in 1950 in Athens, Greece, she studied economics at Cambridge; penned her first book, The Female Woman in 1973; and was married to multi-millionaire and one-term U.S. Congressman Michael Huffington (1986-1997). Arianna Huffington became a regular on TV as a pundit and occasional actor—she voiced animated character Arianna the Bear on The Cleveland Show. Huffington also authored 16 more books and, in 2005, co-founded The Huffington Post. In 2016, she stepped away from her role as HuffPo editor-in-chief to devote more time to her latest startup, Thrive Global, which focuses on health and wellness. Huffington was asked to be a keynote speaker at the annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival, which begins Friday, May 26.

What do you consider to be the most underreported news story of 2017?

Technology allows us to do amazing things, but it's also accelerated the pace of our lives beyond our capacity to cope. This is no accident. We're being controlled by something we should be controlling. It consumes our attention and cripples our ability to focus, think, be present and connect with ourselves. This is such a big story, one so pervasive in every part of our lives, that it's hard to even step back far enough to see it.

Let's talk about your latest book, The Sleep Revolution. Did that stem from something personal?

It was a day in April 2007—I collapsed from exhaustion, broke my cheekbone and woke up in a pool of my own blood. After that, I made a lot of changes. I wrote Thrive, about how to bring more well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving into our lives. Sleep is one element of that. As I went around the world to talk about Thrive, sleep was the topic everyone wanted to discuss. I remember one young woman telling me, "I don't remember the last time I was not tired."

Has our increasing dependence on technology ruined our sleep patterns?

I wouldn't say ruined, since that sounds permanent, but it's a huge factor in the epidemic of stress, burnout and sleep deprivation.

Do you have any thoughts on President Donald Trump's sleep habits? We're led to believe that he gets three or four hours of sleep per night.

I can definitely say he's not a role model for sleep. Regardless of what you think of him politically, we know that sleep has a huge effect on decision-making, problem-solving, impulse control and judgment.

Apart from bed, where does the sleep revolution need to start?

All the elements of our well-being: disconnecting, movement, nutrition and having a sense of purpose. Charge your devices somewhere other than your bedroom. Our phones are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to sleep: our to-do lists, our inboxes, our anxieties.

The Sun Valley Wellness Festival also features an appearance by your sister, Agapi Stasinopoulou, author of Unbinding the Heart: A Dose of Greek Wisdom. Can you share one of your own bits of Greek wisdom?

My mother firmly believed if you weren't always eating, something was wrong with you. A more formal and healthy school of Greek wisdom comes from the school of philosophy founded in Athens in the third century B.C. To the Stoics, unhappiness, negative feelings or what we call stress was mostly the result of how we responded to things. We can't control what happens in the external world, but the one thing we do have control over is our inner world and how we respond.

Can I assume you have traveled to Idaho previously?

I have, and what's most striking is both the physical beauty and openness and generosity of the people of Idaho, which, given the effect that nature and wonder and our surroundings have on us, is no coincidence.

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