Earlier in this election cycle, Donald Trump bragged about not getting much sleep and falsely accused Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of sleeping on the job. (A claim that was thoroughly debunked.)
Now as we enter into the third presidential debate, it bears repeating: Not sleeping is a terrifying habit for a president to have.
Trump has previously boasted about not needing much sleep and, indeed, science suggests there are some people who are naturally short sleepers. But it’s unlikely that Trump carries this short-sleep gene. Experts suspect that only five out of every 100 people who believe they are short sleepers ― meaning, they can function on fewer than the seven to nine hours of sleep generally recommended for adults ― actually do need less sleep.
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. I see an impulsive, vainly insecure person who cannot shut his mind down for a night.
Research shows functioning consistently on just a few hours of sleep a night can seriously mess with your health — and even more concerning, it can mess with your mind and your temper. Here’s what the evidence says can happen 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.
Some might say that starting a 3 a.m. Twitter war qualify as an emotional response:
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.
Does this help explain why Trump seems to actually hate prepping for the presidential debates?
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.
Remember the time Trump personally kicked a crying baby out of one of his rallies?
Or the time he couldn’t take a joke?
While we’ll never know how much sleep the Republican candidate actually gets, the idea of a short-on-sleep president is downright terrifying.
Sarah DiGiulio is The Huffington Post’s sleep reporter. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.