Each year, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity gathers thousands of innovative thinkers and practitioners in advertising and media from around the world to talk about what's new and what's next in our brave new digital world.
Last year, I spoke about one of the most exciting developments online: the fact that the Internet has come out of its adolescent stage and is growing up into a place where our online and our offline lives have merged -- where the qualities we care most about offline are increasingly reflected in our experience online. And where, among all the random searching that defined the Internet's early years, something new has emerged: a search for greater meaning.
Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last week was Do Not Disturb, the new iPhone feature designed to get you off your iPhone altogether.
Do Not Disturb is just one among a growing crop of like-minded apps that are tapping into the benefits of unplugging and recharging -- a source of wisdom that many of our most creative minds have long recognized. Bill Gates, who realized that good ideas come when we shut out distractions, used to take "Think Weeks" -- a week off once or twice a year in a secluded cabin, in order to read and think. Steve Jobs told Walter Isaacson that Zen meditation was important for him so he could still his restless mind and listen, as he put it, to more subtle things, and "that's when your intuition starts to blossom." John Steinbeck put it this way: "a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it."
Going back through history, we know that many of the great discoveries were made in moments of relaxation. Archimedes famously had his eureka moment in the bath, and was so excited he dashed out naked -- which of course today would have instantly been captured on Twitter. Isaac Newton was, as legend has it, sitting in a garden under an apple tree when he had his revelation. Even Post-it notes were invented when Arthur Fry was sitting in church, daydreaming about a colleague who'd invented a new glue too weak to hold anything together except two sheets of paper.
The wisdom of unplugging extends far beyond the worlds of business, arts and science. Increasingly, athletes are on the front lines of embracing sleep as the real performance enhancer.
Dr. Charles Czeisler, director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has advised NBA teams on the topic, contributing to a growing napping culture among the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Cheri Mah, a Stanford sleep researcher who has consulted with NBA, NHL, college and Olympic athletes, told The New York Times that athletes have only recently come around to prioritizing sleep alongside physical training and nutrition. And Nike's SPARQ program, dedicated to improving athletic performance, is helping highlight sleep's importance when it comes to training, focus, and recovery. So giving 110 percent on the field should now include regular napping off the field.
The need to reconnect with our selves by disconnecting from our devices is no trivial matter in a world where we are in desperate need of creative solutions to our multiple crises. So, whether through an app like Do Not Disturb, or a "Think Week," or a pre-game nap, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to renew our estranged relationship with life beyond our screens and tap into our own wisdom, empathy and creativity -- the kind of timeless qualities that, I have a feeling, will continue to resonate no matter how our online lives change.
(Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)