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Arianna Huffington’s sleep machine

Arianna Huffington (Noah Berger/Associated Press)

Tyler Kingkade is a Huffington Post reporter focused on higher education and millennials. A look at his author page yields an appreciation of the sorts of stories he finds compelling: campus sexual assault and high school sexual assault. In addition to keeping up with these crime-and-justice topics, Kingkade has lately covered a softer type of news:

Why The Huffington Post Is Going On A Sleep Tour On College Campuses,” reads the headline of an April 8 story.

Two days later, Kingkade turned in this follow-up: “What People On Campus Are Saying About HuffPost’s College Sleep Tour.” Very positive things, as it turns out.

Both of those stories carry a heavy dose of branding. The first links to a story about the new book of Huffington Post Media Group Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington, “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.” The second promotes the #SleepRevolution hashtag and includes social-media activity surrounding the college tour.

Every nonfiction author should have the URL power that has greeted “The Sleep Revolution.” Here’s an inventory of some Huffington Post pieces that are associated in some way with the book:

March 21: “Announcing the Sleep Revolution College Tour” by Arianna Huffington

March 30: “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,” by Arianna Huffington

April 4: “Arianna Huffington: My Guide to a Better Night’s Sleep” by Arianna Huffington

April 4: “Arianna: Office Nap Rooms Will Soon Be As Common As Conference Rooms” by Huffington Post reporter Willa Frej

April 4: “Why Sleep Is Arianna Huffington’s Superpower” by Jeena Cho (Forbes)

April 5 “Arianna Highlights Pro Athletes Who Have Improved Their Game Thanks To Sleep” by Huffington Post reporter Willa Frej

April 6: “Arianna: ‘Orgasms Are Mother Nature’s Ambien’” Huffington Post assignment editor Alana Horowitz Satlin

April 6: “My Q and A With Jennifer Aniston On Her Secrets To A Good Night’s Sleep” by Arianna Huffington

April 8: “Why The Huffington Post Is Going On A Sleep Tour On College Campuses,” by Kingkade

April 8: “The Sleep Revolution: Sleep Your Way to the Top” by Author, Wife, Mother, Homemaker, Writer Catherine Nagle

April 8: “Arianna Huffington And Airbnb Want You To Spend A Night In Her Sleep Paradise. Here’s How.” by Senior Lifestyle Editor Rebecca Shapiro

April 10: “Arianna Explains Her Bedtime Ritual To Fareed Zakaria” by Senior Front Page Editor Adam Goldberg Senior Front Page Editor

April 12: “Arianna On The One Thing That Will Make Your Health, Sex Life And Career Better” by Oprah Winfrey (O, The Oprah Magazine)

April 14: “Arianna Huffington On What You Should Never Do Tired” by editor Ryan Grenoble.

April 16: “Arianna Tells Bill Maher About Trump’s Lasting Contribution To American Life” by Trends Editor Lee Moran

April 18: “Arianna Helps Joe Scarborough Get A Better Night’s Sleep” by Assignment Editor Alana Horowitz Satlin

Citing that pile of links, several Huffington Post staffers have gently encouraged the Erik Wemple Blog to examine whether the finite editorial resources of the Huffington Post are being imprudently plowed into book promotion for the editor-in-chief. “Well, there’s no evidence of that,” retorts Huffington in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog. In deference to her, the Huffington Post does commonly cover Arianna Huffington’s appearances on TV programs and the like.

Another flash point of internal gossip relates to the work of the Huffington Post’s new sleep reporter. In early February, the site announced that it was looking for a journalist with a “firm grasp of all that’s happening in the scientific field of sleep studies, a newsy eye for how sleep (and sleep-deprivation) influences major stories, and an appreciation of the way sleep unlocks new possibilities for us — as individuals and as a society — when we embrace it and give it the respect it deserves.”

For these responsibilities, the Huffington Post brought on Sarah Digiulio, who started posting items just before Huffington’s book launch. In her aggregational meanderings, Digiulio has found reason to link to “Sleep Revolution.” The deal with Digiulio, says Huffington, stems not from her book, but rather from the Huffington Post’s partnership with mattress maker Sleep Number, which was announced in December (Huffington says it took some time to find Digiulio). Per the three-year arrangement, Sleep Number serves as the sole sponsor of the site’s Sleep + Wellness section and benefits from a stream of native advertising. Said Huffington in announcing the deal: “I’m delighted to be partnering with Sleep Number, a company that truly shares HuffPost’s belief in sleep’s power to improve our lives in every way, from our health and happiness to our well-being and productivity.”

Those shared values surfaced just weeks after the partnership was announced. A Jan. 11 Huffington Post article under the byline of Senior Tech Editor Damon Beres carried this top:

Sleep Number’s ‘It Bed’ Transforms Itself To Improve Your Shut-Eye
An innovative new mattress tracks your movements and conforms to your body to help you sleep better.

Lest anyone reach the conclusion that Huffington Post journalism is driven by Huffington Post business interests, Beres’s story contained this disclaimer: “Note: Sleep Number — an advertiser that partners with The Huffington Post in its Sleep+Wellness coverage — had no input or influence on the content of this article.”

And as for the #SleepRevolution college tour, its expenses are being covered by AOL Events (Verizon owns AOL, the parent company of the Huffington Post). Even though this tour bears the title of Arianna Huffington’s book, the book itself isn’t being offered for sale on the tour, according to Huffington Post spokeswoman Lena Auerbuch. “HuffPost is working with the wellness departments at each school to put on free events for the students, and everything (all products, brand activations) are being donated,” writes Auerbuch via email. That’s not to say, of course, that Huffington’s book isn’t being promoted:

Deep, restful slumber isn’t a breaking-news topic for Arianna Huffington, whose namesake website launched a sleep section in 2007. This nontraditional beat owes its existence at least in part to a traumatic sleep-deprivation episode suffered by Huffington herself. “I collapsed from sleep deprivation and hit my desk on the way down and broke my cheekbone; that was my wake-up call,” Huffington has told NPR. Various Huffington Post staffers attest to the sincerity of the boss’s passion: When there’s a sleep angle to the work they’re pursuing, by all means report it out and write it up. Huffington Post senior national correspondent Jonathan Cohn’s story on advertisements for sleep medications reads like a successful outgrowth of this policy. Another: Senior congressional reporter Michael McAuliff last week wrote a compelling piece about the trucking industry opposing safety regulations to rein in somnolent drivers.

Though some digital news sites can drive their employees to exhaustion, such is not the way of the Huffington Post. In “Sleep Revolution,” Huffington discusses cultural resistance to her sleep ideology among her own colleagues: “At HuffPost,” she writes in her book, “there was skepticism when we first installed nap rooms in New York in 2011. HuffPosters were reluctant to be seen walking into a nap room in the middle of a bustling newsroom in ‘the city that never sleeps.’ But now they are perpetually full, and we’re spreading nap rooms around the world, starting with our London office.”

Investing in the production of employee rest, indeed, signals just how deeply Huffington believes in this revolution, or at least in its necessity. “Like with any culture shift,” Huffington told the Erik Wemple Blog, “we’ve been dealing with a delusion and the culture is based on the belief that sleep is dispensable. You had Thomas Edison and other scientific icons saying we are going to eliminate sleep.” Morons. Surely Edison & Co. were eager to invite impaired memory, infertility, diabetes, weight problems and many other maladies, including “succumbing to impulsive desires, poor attentional capacity, and compromised decision making.” That bit comes straight from Huffington’s chapter on the science of sleep, a fine roundup of reasons to call it a day.

The Huffington Post founder has converted her own celebrity into a number of book-promoting interviews, with “Morning Joe,” Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, the “Today  Show,” CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and others.  Her ideas on sleep have also attracted some fandom on college campuses, says Auerbuch. Whereas the #SleepRevolution college tour started out with 50 stops, it has expanded to 100, even though Huffington herself won’t be present at 90 percent of the events, says Auerbuch. The countrywide sleep sweep has produced a plume of coverage in local and college papers, including this promotion for an event at UC Berkeley:

Huffing Post is putting on a fair where they’re offering giveaways of snacks, pajamas, meditation tools and sleep gadgets. Stop by because this is something you won’t want to miss! The event is on Monday, April 11 from 11AM-2PM at the Pauley Ballroom (2nd floor of MLK Student Union)! Stop by for a free copy ofThe Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington as well!

There’s more for the Huffington Post business model: University bloggers are coming to the site to write about sleep + wellness. Polly Irungu of the University of Oregon wrote, in part: “Attendees of the Sleep Revolution event received sleep kits courtesy of the The Huffington Post, and their incredible sponsors. Fifteen lucky participants walked away with a kit full of giveaways: Soxxy socks, KIND bars, Sleep Number eye masks, Victoria’s Secret essential oils, Lands’ End pajama set, Marpac’s Rohm portable sound machine, Marriott portable speakers, Arianna’s book with a corresponding Kikki K sleep journal, and more.”

As Huffington herself told this blog, ” It’s very important for us to reach the millennial audience … in colleges.”