Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Note to President Obama

Mr. President,

After today’s
inauguration and many inaugural events, the hard work begins. Actually, it continues. During this time of transition you had to hit the ground running.

The days ahead are sure to be long and hard. These times are uncertain. But one thing is for sure: You’re going to need some sleep.

The sleep habits of your predecessor are well known. President Bush made it clear
from the beginning that he likes an early bedtime. This even became known around the world.

Now you may not agree with many of his policies or strategies. But hopefully you see wisdom in making your need for sleep a high priority.

Sleep has such a profound effect on virtually every aspect of your life. Your physical health. Your mental and emotional well-being. Your performance. Your alertness. Your memory.

And America needs you at your best. As you said during today’s
inaugural address, “That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood... the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.”

There is plenty of
research that could convince you of the importance of sleep. But consider this one scientific review that seems to apply so well to your situation.

It focused on studies of sleep deprivation’s effect on how people make decisions. The review found that sleep loss impairs certain types of decision making.

In fact it reads like a checklist of decisions that a president has to make every day: “decision making involving the unexpected, innovation, revising plans, competing distraction, and effective communication.”

The review also pointed out that these skills are most needed by leaders during emergency situations. Unfortunately emergencies don’t follow a schedule.

Expect the unexpected,” it is often said. Perhaps it should also be said to prepare for the unexpected by being well rested.

You’re going to have some important decisions to make, Mr. President. So get a good night’s sleep. And another. And another. Why don’t you just make it a habit?

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