December 30, 2015

Does Donald Trump sleep?

That's the question I googled at 2:30 a.m. as Meade and I contemplated getting up for the day. What I picked out to read was: "Donald Trump's sleep-bragging highlights a broader issue" (in The Chicago Tribune, 11/12/15). I liked that because it seemed ludicrously emblematic of the press efforts to use anything they can find to portray Trump as deranged and disgusting.
Despite studies showing links with diabetes, high blood pressure and weight gain, sleeping just a few hours a night was a badge of honor long before Donald Trump's repeated — and very flattering — public comments on his own ability to get by on three or four hours. In Springfield on Monday, he touted this trait, saying, "I have a great temperament for success. ... You know, I'm not a big sleeper, I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what's going on."
I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what's going on... Ha ha. Beep-de-beep instantly became slang around here.

Actually, the article isn't really about Trump. It's about how the vast majority of people need more sleep than the 3 to 4 hours sleep braggarts like Trump talk about.
The problem, experts say, is that very few of us — in the realm of 1 percent — can actually flourish on just a few hours of sleep a night, and sleep-bragging makes what for most of us is an unhealthy practice seem more desirable.
I see 2 problems there: 1. 1% is still a lot of people, and you may be one of them. Of course, it's desirable. As with brains and beauty, you're lucky if you're in the top 1% and you should feel good about it. 2. The experts are sleep experts, and they've got an economic interest in lack of sleep as a problem.

I also read "19 Successful People Who Barely Sleep," which is from 2012, so it predates the aggressive get-Trump era. It quotes Trump saying: "How does somebody that's sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that's sleeping three or four?"

Here's another quote from Donald Trump: "Don’t sleep any more than you have to. I usually sleep about four hours per night." He's not telling people to cut back on their sleep if they need more, just informing us of what should be obvious: Stop when you've had enough.

24 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Trump is seeming more and more like the Prussia's master politician, Otto Von Bismarck. He plotted many a miracle while his enemies slept. The Bush family Enterprise has learned what it means to, "be careful of that man, he means every word he says."

Phil 3:14 said...

"Actually, the article isn't really about Trump"

C'mon Professor, every article, everything is about Trump.

virgil xenophon said...

Wen't to bed@ 1am CST, woke up @0500CST in time to get my morning fix of "Morning Joe" ("know your enemy" :) ) so I'm a lot like you re the sleep bit, Ann..

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Trump may well be what is called a "short sleeper". Humans differ from our biological relatives in that our deep sleep is apparently much more effective. Many primates will sleep 14 to 18 hours per day. It stands to reason, therefore, that there will be a significant bell curve amongst humans in that same regard.

I was tangentially involved in a study of short-sleepers which examined (amongst other things) the possible genetic connections and potential heritability of that tendency. One key factor is whether you *can* sleep late, you do. I remember doing chemistry experiments in the kitchen at 05:30 of a Sunday morning with my short-sleeping father ... or playing cribbage at the same hour with *his* father.

Here's where it gets fascinating. The researcher asked "How many languages do you speak?" I was shocked [being fluent or comfortable in eight languages, and able to be polite in five more]. Unsurprised, he commented that there was a particular sub-set of short-sleepers with great facility for language. My paternal grandfather was comfortable in a dozen.

Here's where I freaked out a bit about this whole thing. The researcher mentioned Jefferson as a notorious short-sleeper who could become functional in a language within a few months. Jefferson's mother was the sister of my X-great grandfather. That's when he wanted the genetic connections.

We have a *lot* more to learn about this. As I see it, however, the split-sleep thing (and that's when most babies were conceived) is actually a "good morning" thing for a certain percentage of the population.

Others, like Edison, would nap for 45 minutes every 3 or 4 hours, then go back to work. Edison did that for decades and never had a "decent night's sleep".

damikesc said...

Seems a lot of successful types don't have a lot of sleep.

Is it something that only a few can deal with? I'd assume so. There aren't a ton of majorly successful people.

Michael K said...

There are lots of successful people who catnap all the time. One such was Churchill, who also slept a lot. Another was Sherman who was napping one day when his army was marching by. Some of his men teased him about sleeping and he responded, "I was up late planning for you boys what to do today."

David said...

My law practice was at turns novel, exciting and stimulating or ordinary and routine. I slept a lot less when it was exciting and stimulating.

Trump has arranged his life so that he is nearly always in a fast paced stimulating environment. It not an easy environment to create, and even harder to sustain full time.

SOJO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MathMom said...

When I was vegetarian in my 20's, I needed only about 4 hours of sleep a night. I had almost an extra half day every day to do homework and sew. Makes me wonder why I'm not vegetarian now. I'm not nearly as productive now as I was then.

jr565 said...

If he doesn't sleep to find out what's going on, why can't he articulate things in anything more than generalities. I don't think he's actually learning details, he's channel surfing and watching Law and Order and NCIS reruns.

tim maguire said...

I can function on 4 hours sleep, but I need 7 to feel good, 7:30 to feel really good. More than 8 and I'm lethargic again (I haven't had 8 in years).

Sure, I'd love to get by on 4 hours if I could. I would more than double my spare time (which I have no shortage of hobbies and chores to fill with). But when I'm tired, I'm far less productive, comfortable, healthy, happy. Everything is better when I'm rested.

tim in vermont said...

He needs to lose weight. Maybe if he slept more he'd be thinner and be less insane?

SOJO gets a pat on the head for drawing the exact conclusion the article was intended to inspire. I am old enough to remember when the NYT was about news rather than mind games. That all changed right around the time of the first Clinton's troubles, when they were beaten back for taking all of this talk of sexual harassment, power differences with employees, etc, seriously. Somebody then apparently 'splained to them that it only mattered if it was a Republican in question, and got their mind right.

Big Mike said...

I don't know about Trump, but I'm pretty sure Glenn Reynolds gets by on less than a half hour a night. Or maybe he's twins?

Writ Small said...

I listened to an radio interview with Trump a few weeks ago when a female interviewer started the interview by asking if he was racist.

In a gentle voice that sounded like he was about to laugh, Trump said, "No, no." Then he said something like, "I am very likely the least racist person you have ever spoken to."

The reporter replied an immediate, "Oh, how so?" I could not have listened with more focus as I waited to hear Trump explain his world-class lack of racism. Unfortunately, he did not provide examples and moved on to other things he wanted to say.

eric said...

Well, if you already don't like the Donald, you'll come to the proper conclusion. The one SOJO has come to.

How could we possibly come to the proper conclusions without the help of the new York times?

rcocean said...

I'm looking forward to comments from the dumb, unsuccessful short sleepers.

"Yeah, I sleep 4 hours a night and i'm still on welfare".

BrianE said...

I seem to recall Bill Clinton claiming he only needed 4 hours sleep.

Wilbur said...

I've always been a short sleeper, 4 to six hours a night. I haven't set an alarm clock or asked for a wakeup call in my life. The last few months I've been waking at 4:00am no matter when I go to sleep. Plus, I've always been one who has to get up when I wake up.

I consider it just another behavioral variation in the human pool. No big deal.

sydney said...

I envy people who can get by on little sleep. I get physically ill when I'm forced to sleep less than 6 hours. The longer the time frame the sicker I get. The hours my job demands varies unpredictably, so there are times when it can get very busy and I have to get by on less than 6 hours of sleep for 3-4 months at a time. When that happens I feel so sick I think I surely must have a terminal illness. Then I will get a chance to sleep- maybe a vacation or a lull in the job activities, and I can't believe how good I feel once I am back into my natural rhythm, which seems to be close to 8 hours a night. As I get older it gets harder to do those sustained intervals of little sleep and I end up getting further behind in my work. Maybe I could convince someone I have adult attention deficit disorder and get some amphetamines.

TreeJoe said...

My sleep journey is different than what is being shared on here: in my teenage years, 8.5 hours or else I was lethargic. In my twenties, anything less than 7 hours really hit me. At 30, I had my first child - a non-sleeper. I now have two children, the youngest of which doesn't sleep more than 2.5-3 hours at a stretch....so I've been getting completely variable sleep for >3 years now where I go anywhere from a 2 hour stretch max, 3 hour stretch, 4 hours total, and very rarely more than 6 total hours of sleep with the occasional 6 hour stretch. I don't get sick days off as a parent and breadwinner, and when I travel i can't sleep more than 4-5 hours in a hotel.

I frequently wake up exhausted, or with a headache, but everyday within 30 minutes and a cup or 3 of coffee I'm good to go. I'm a morning person for the first time in my life and I'm pretty sure on 6 hours of sleep (straight), infrequent though it is, I feel I can take on the world. My brain still doesn't shut down until 10-11pm, though I can't push myself into a social situation beyond that time and get really lethargic at parties or if I've had a drink or two at 10pm.

My point behind sharing this is I think the body can actually be trained to sleep far less within 18 months. I think we don't actually understand the biological need for sleep and adaptivity to sleep very well despite all the research.

Sammy Finkelman said...

I think Thomas Edison also didn't believe in sleep, and that's why he invented the light bulb in 1879. And it's true people sleep more in winter. But they had gas lights in the streets of Paris in 1667.

Drago said...

BrianE: "I seem to recall Bill Clinton claiming he only needed 4 hours sleep"

And the media loved it and praised the dems, Clinton, the "War Room" et al for all those long hours, pizza at 3am etc as a sign of youthful vigor in pursuit of wonderful dem-lefty policies!! Huzzah!!

Now, since Trump claims to sleep a few hours at night this will be painted as a symptom deep dark latent fascistic tendencies.

As will be any ordering of BLT sandwiches, walking down the street and breathing air by the Donald.

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