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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 February 2019

Stress and lack of sleep leading to worldwide burnout, says Arianna Huffington

US TV personality Dr Oz also warned about poor sleeping patterns in the UAE during World Government Summit panel discussion

Journalist Becky Anderson, Dr Oz, Arianna Huffington and Prof David Clark. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Journalist Becky Anderson, Dr Oz, Arianna Huffington and Prof David Clark. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Stress is threatening to become a global epidemic, with UAE residents at risk due to not getting enough sleep, a panel of experts has warned.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and Thrive Global, a company that seeks to promote emotional and physical well-being in the workplace, said that attachment to mobile phones was going to lead to a "worldwide burn out".

US TV personality Dr Mehmet Oz, of health and wellness programme The Dr Oz Show, also warned that sleeping patterns in the UAE were not conducive to strong mental health.

“I ran a study recently comparing the UAE to the Western world. People here lie in bed three minutes shorter than in the US,” Dr Oz said.

“But the study also showed that the average person in the UAE is only sleeping for five hours and 38 minutes each night – 28 minutes shorter than in the West. Sleep is a direct barometer of stress.”

Ms Huffington, who collapsed from exhaustion two years after founding her eponymous digital magazine, said she once saw nothing wrong with sleeping for only four hours a night.

“A lot of us do that in the pursuit of success, but actually our performance is undermined when we don’t get enough sleep,” she said.

“There is a global delusion that we always need to 'be on' to succeed and that sleep is optional.

“That has led to an incredible crisis in both mental health and chronic diseases, with an explosion in obesity levels and heart conditions.”

She also hit out at a culture of thinking about work constantly.

“Our success is a product of the quality of our input, not how much time we put in.

“People keep working all night answering emails and never have a proper end to the working day.

“You have to draw a line."

Arianna Huffington and David Clark speak about mental health. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Arianna Huffington and Prof David Clark speak about mental health. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Failing to do this, she said, would only lead to an increase in stress-induced sleepless nights.

“I do it every night. Your phone is a depository of everyone’s demands of you.

“You have to take it, turn it off and charge it outside of the bedroom,” she said.

On the pressures of digital culture, Ms Huffington said that young women, particularly teenagers, were vulnerable to depression, with the panel scrutinising the impact of social media on mental health.

“People are constantly comparing the messy reality of their life with the curated images from others that give the impression of a perfect life," Ms Huffington said.

Updated: February 11, 2019 11:31 AM

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