Maybe Donald Trump acts childish because no one tells him he needs to go to bed.
“I think he's absolutely exhausted to the point he's almost delirious,” Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said during a discussion Monday of Trump's “completely racist” remarks about the federal judge presiding over Trump University lawsuits.
Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is a one-man media circus, ringmaster of a show that always seems to be on. He brags about how little sleep he gets.
“He's 69 years old," Joe Scarborough, " Morning Joe" co-host, said. "He does a standup routine two, three, four times a day in the hot sun. He gets no sleep. He exhausts himself.
“All this adds up. And it's very obvious he's absolutely exhausted by his own choice.”
Trump has said he gets about three to four hours a night on average -- about half what the National Sleep Foundation recommends for people 65 and older. As he gets closer to the world's most powerful elected office, it's worth pointing out that Trump's sleep deprivation may have severe performance consequences, according to evidence that spans the fields of neuroscience, sleep medicine and management.
Sleep deprivation = freaky behavior
“Lack of sleep often affects mood in substantial ways,” Paul Whitney, professor of psychology at Washington State University, told HuffPost. “There is evidence that lack of sleep decreases the ability to regulate emotion, so sleep-deprived individuals may experience greater emotional reactivity and impulsivity.”
Whitney, who with colleagues has conducted research on the effects of sleep deprivation, explained that lack of sleep profoundly affects tasks that require quick decisions based on feedback from previous tasks.
This cognitive flexibility, as Whitney described it, is required in emergency situations, where events unfold amid conflicting information about the best course of action.
These are also the kinds of situations in which sleep deprivation has been shown to contribute to catastrophic errors.
Paul Whitney, professor of psychology at Washington State University
“These are also the kinds of situations in which sleep deprivation has been shown to contribute to catastrophic errors," such as nuclear accidents and the space shuttle Challenger disaster, Whitney said.
A small percentage of people can function well on fewer than six hours of sleep, Whitney explained. “However, it is fair to say that many people who think they are functioning well on little sleep actually have substantial deficits. And people aren't generally very good at judging their own degree of impairment.”
'It's all about trusting his gut.'
Trump doesn't appear to doubt his own judgement very often. NBC News correspondent Katy Tur explained on "Morning Joe" that Trump is an opportunist. “It's all about trusting his gut rather than trusting a PR machine or a data machine," said Tur, citing Trump's book, The Art of the Deal.
“He believes in walking into a room, not necessarily prepared, reading the room and deciding where to go from there. That is what he has done this whole campaign,” Tur said.
Brzezinski and Scarborough pointed to Tur's recent NBC report detailing Trump's lack of campaign staff. Brzezinski noted Trump doesn't seem to know when to call it a day.
“He's a guy who doesn't sleep. He's extremely high-strung," Brzezinski said. "He works 24 hours a day. He can't rein it in."
From sleep deprivation to hostility
Yes, there very well may be a connection between Trump's lack of sleep and his behavior.
“In general, sleep deprivation leads to irritability, hostility, prejudice, cognitive errors and bad judgment," management expert Christopher Barnes, who studies the role of sleep and sleep deprivation on behavioral ethics, team performance and decision-making, told HuffPost.
Barnes, an associate professor of management at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business, recently conducted experiments that showed well-rested leaders were perceived as more charismatic than leaders who were sleep-deprived.
Barnes said he wanted his comments to be politically neutral. Still, he noted, “Whatever one's opinion about Trump, there are no good effects of sleep deprivation, only bad ones.”
Editor's note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist,
Sarah DiGiulio is The Huffington Post's sleep reporter. You can contact her at sarah.digiulio@.
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