Sleep It Off

Correlation ≠ causation


Iconic rich woman and sleep advocate Arianna Huffington published a blog post a few days ago about how the current regime would be going a whole lot better if only our president would get more sleep.

On face value: sure. Why not? We all need more sleep, there’s so much science about how it makes you healthier. Why not have “more sleep” be one of the many things you wish for someone in a position of power? But then you keep reading, and apparently sleep is the only reason this presidency’s been rocky.

A Modest Proposal: Mr. President, Get Some Sleep

Here’s her case. First of all, sleep is what put a snag in Bill Clinton’s presidency:

“Clinton was still celebrating the victory and loved staying up half the night to laugh and talk with old friends,” Gergen wrote. “The next morning, he would be up at the crack of dawn to hit the beach for an early run or perhaps a game of touch football.” … How big of an effect did this have on Clinton’s presidency? His first week was dominated by his clumsy handling of the gays-in-the-military issue, which earned him criticism from those on both sides of the aisle. And according to Gergen, this way of working “planted seeds that almost destroyed Clinton’s presidency.”

And actually, while we’re on the topic of the Clintons, sleep is what tanked Hillary’s campaign.

Hillary Clinton might make the same admission one day, given that it was on the same night that she refused to rest after having been diagnosed with walking pneumonia that she made one of her worst mistakes of the campaign — calling Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables.”

So given those two touchstones, it should come as no surprise that our president is generating far-reaching and exponentially worse crises in his first few days:

“You know, I’m not a big sleeper,” he said during a campaign rally in Illinois. “I like three hours, four hours. I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what’s going on.” … So in effect he told us he wasn’t going to be sleeping much, and he’s keeping that promise. But this is one of the many promises he should consider breaking.

And that goes for his team, too:

And perhaps the reason the aides “tend to adopt his mindset” is because they’re also forced to adopt his sleeping habits.

There is no mention of cultural systems like racism, xenophobia, or masculinity, which suggests that everything that’s going on—all of this bad behavior—might be stopped if everyone involved would only have the decency to get some Zzz’s. What a nice thought!