As the 2020 United States presidential campaign heats up, The New York Times reached out 21 Democratic candidates and asked them how many hours of sleep do they normally get a night. Most of them aimed for 6 or 7 hours of sleep, often failing to achieve that goal. The current US president Donald Trump even believes that he can function well on little sleep. “I have a great temperament for success,” he said once at a campaign. “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.” And voila! It turns out that the leader of the US often engages in magical thinking and brags about “fake news”, or perhaps he actually believes it – as a study showed that sleep deprivation can create fake memories.
Lack of sleep has been considered as a public health epidemic: 35% of people sleep less than 6 hours per night, 38% fall asleep unintentionally during the day (does that happen to you, too?), and 48% have trouble falling or staying asleep at least once a week! A study found that sleep deprivation can adversely affect a variety of cognitive abilities, including decreased emotional intelligence, empathy, quality of interpersonal relationships, positive thinking, as well as action orientation. It is also associated with low stress management skills and a greater reliance on superstitions and magical thinking. Bill Clinton once admitted that most of the mistakes he made in his political career happened because he was “too tired”, after reported to have only 4 to 6 hours a night while he was in office. Imagine how big the organisational cost of insufficient sleep!
“I can talk about sleep for another 2 hours!” – Philip
Sleep is the foundation of performance and productivity. Our mental and physical health, even happiness, all rely on a good night’s sleep. There is also a proven link between sleep and effective leadership. Next time, instead of “hello” or “good morning”, how about starting a day asking your colleagues, “Did you have a good night’s sleep?”
“No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation. It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny.” – UC Berkeley neuroscientist Matthew Walker
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