Why It's Actually Terrifying That Donald Trump Doesn't Sleep Much

Let's recap why this would be a bad habit for a president.
At a campaign event today in Anaheim, California, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragged again about his lack of sleep.
At a campaign event today in Anaheim, California, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragged again about his lack of sleep.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said before that he doesn't get much sleep. And at a campaign event Wednesday in Anaheim, California, less than two weeks before the California presidential primary, Trump bragged again: "I don't sleep much. I don't sleep much."

The above MSNBC clip captures Trump berating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for allegedly "sleeping" through a very important call at three in the morning.

"She was sleeping. They called. They kept calling. Did you see hundreds and hundreds of emails and calls. And they kept calling. And she was sleeping, folks," Trump said. Cue the laugh track of his supporters.

If Trump is referring to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, he might do well to review the evidence. The nonpartisan, nonprofit FactCheck.org (of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania) reported last month that Clinton received news of attack while she was in her office in Washington at 3:45 p.m. EST, and at 4:05 p.m. the State Department Operations Center sent an “Ops Alert” notifying senior department officials, the White House Situation Room and others about the Benghazi attack.

Still, Trump assured his supporters that if Clinton is elected, her presidency would be "nothing but turmoil."

Meanwhile, Trump repeatedly claims he doesn't sleep much himself.

That last claim is actually terrifying. The Huffington Post has explained why before. New York Times columnist Timothy Egan agreed in an op-ed published earlier this year.

"When I see his puffy eyes and face, I don’t see a man who will carefully weigh all the facts and consequences of an action that could affect everyone on the planet," Egan wrote. "I see an impulsive, vainly insecure person who cannot shut his mind down for a night."

Let's recap the research that shows functioning consistently on just three or four hours of sleep can seriously mess with your health -- and even more concerning, with your mind and your temper. If you don't get enough sleep:

1. You're more likely to be emotional

A 2007 study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Medical School used brain scans to show that emotional centers of the brain were 60 percent more reactive in individuals who were sleep-deprived compared with individuals who had a normal night of sleep.

2. You have trouble focusing

Several studies have shown that lack of sleep affects our ability to focus. And in a study published last year, researchers found that animals with complex nervous systems (humans included) need sleep to support cognitive functions -- and tasks that require more attention also increased the need for sleep and intensity of sleep.

3. You're more likely to make bad decisions

According a 2015 study, sleep loss affects critical aspects of decision-making in high-stakes situations. The study simulated a situation where participants had to complete a task to test their decision-making while adapting to changing circumstances -- and participants who were sleep-deprived were more likely to make the wrong decisions than participants who had slept.

4. You have trouble with learning and memory

When you haven't slept, your ability to learn new information could drop by up to 40 percent, Matthew Walker, a Berkeley sleep researcher, told the National Institutes of Health. Experts say sleep plays an important role in how we learn new things, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

5. You might make less appropriate moral decisions

Another study found that individuals took longer to decide how to respond to a personal moral dilemma when they were sleep-deprived compared to when they were well-rested. And when sleep-deprived, people may be prone to making different decisions than they would have in a fully rested state, one of the study's authors, William D.S. Killgore, now associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.

6. You feel stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted

A study of healthy adults found that getting less than five hours of sleep a night for seven nights in a row led the individuals to report feeling more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted.

Those are all concerning consequences of a daily habit of someone vying for the highest political office in our country.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

Sarah DiGiulio is The Huffington Post’s sleep reporter. You can contact her at sarah.digiulio@huffingtonpost.com.

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