Search “most influential people in health” and you’ll see lists of celebrity trainers and best-selling nutritionists. The results for influential people in sleep? Zilch.
We think it’s time sleep advocates get some recognition, too. After all, sleep is just as important as any other pillar of wellness.
So, from scientists and CEOs to actors and NFL stars, we’re looking at the most influential people bringing awareness to the importance of sleep.
1. Gwyneth Paltrow
No matter how crazy Paltrow’s lifestyle empire’s recommendations may seem (see: apitherapy and conscious uncoupling), there’s one we can definitely agree on: Sleep. Goop’s recent book, “Clean Beauty,” champions the concept of clean sleeping, which prioritizes sleep above anything else – including diet and exercise.
2. Tom Brady
In an interview with GQ the five-time Super Bowl champion explained that sleep is the only way to re-build your body. “If you’re not sleeping, you’re not recovering,” he said. Sports Illustrated reported that he does cognitive exercises to de-stimulate his brain before bed so he can fall asleep by 9 p.m. and wake up without an alarm.
3. Arianna Huffington
After a sleep deprivation-induced injury, this self-proclaimed sleep evangelist realized that not getting enough ZZZs was a serious health hazard. Between her new book, “The Sleep Revolution,” and her new wellness venture Thrive Global, she’s been unapologetically vocal on the issue.
Watch Huffington talk about “The Sleep Revolution” with Talks at Google:
4. William Dement
Known as the “father of sleep medicine,” William Dement has been studying shuteye since the 1950s and was pivotal in opening the world’s first sleep lab. He was the first researcher to make all-night, continuous recordings of human brain and eye activity, which led to the discovery of the different stages of sleep, and the relationship between REM sleep and dreams.
Currently a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine and the Division Chief of the university’s Division of Sleep, he’s notorious for waking students up with a squirt gun if they fall asleep in class.
5. Michael Breus
You might recognize Michael Breus, a.k.a. The Sleep Doctor, from CNN, the Today Show, or Dr. Oz. In addition to his regular media appearances, Dr. Breus runs a private practice and serves as a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. He’s also authored several books about harnessing the healing powers of sleep. But don’t worry if you can’t make it to California for a private session: his Twitter account has you covered with up-to-date insights and guidance.
6. Drew Ackerman
Between Game of Drones and Sleep With Me, Drew Ackerman helps over 3.3 million listeners fall asleep every month. Ackerman speaks in a soothing tone of voice and tells purposefully boring adult bedtime stories on his hour-long podcast episodes.
We recently talked with Akerman about his lifelong struggle with insomnia, and the comedy radio show “Dr. Demento,” that inspired his podcast.
7. Michael Mosley
Best known for appearances on BBC programs like “Trust Me I’m a Doctor,” Mosley is a lifelong insomniac. In 2017, he produced the documentary, “The Truth About Sleep,” which reveals the detrimental effects of insufficient sleep and debunks popular sleep myths. His investigation found that morning exercise, fibrous foods, and limited pre-bed screen time could improve sleep.
Wondering if you’re sleep deprived? Try Mosley’s sleep onset latency test to find out:
8. The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama said that good sleep is the key to taking care of his health amid his hectic schedule and highly public role. He wakes up at three o’clock every morning and goes to bed around 7 p.m., meditating for about five hours in between. “Sleep is the best meditation,” he explained. It’s not only important for nirvana, but for survival, too.
9. Wendy Troxel
If you were still in middle school, Dr. Wendy Troxel would be your best friend. A licensed clinical psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist, she’s fighting for schools to start later. According to her research, the moodiness, irritability, and laziness that’s often associated with teens may actually be a result of chronic sleep deprivation.
Troxel claims that since their biological clocks work differently, waking an adolescent at 6 a.m. is the biological equivalent of waking an adult at 4 a.m. She’s found that districts with later start times exhibit lower dropout rates, improved test scores, lower incidences of car crashes, and happier families.
10. Nancy Rothstein
Decades of experience in the corporate and financial sectors taught Nancy Rothstein that poor sleep has a serious impact on safety, productivity, and profitability. She’s since made a career consulting and lecturing Fortune 500 companies, schools, athletic teams, and other organizations as The Sleep Ambassador. She provides information and strategic techniques that empower people to prioritize sleep.
Rothstein also teaches a sleep wellness course for NYU and wrote a children’s book about sleep apnea called “My Daddy Snores.”
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