Sleepless on Pennsylvania Avenue

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July 13, 2009

The White House

If you think your work schedule is demanding, try being an adviser for the president. A recent article in the Washington Post examined the hectic schedules of members of President Obama's Administration, including their bouts with sleepless nights and fatigue. According to the Post, grueling schedules aren't anything new at the Oval Office. Previous administrations had their share of 18- to 20-hour work days. However, a study conducted for British Parliament concluded that the mental fatigue resulting from working those kinds of hours can affect "cognitive performance, leading to errors of judgment, microsleeps (lasting for seconds or minutes), mood swings and poor motivation," according to the Post. Short sleep duration also is linked with an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, an increase in body mass index, an increased risk of diabetes and heart problems, an increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse, and a decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information. According to the Post, staff members are starting to take breaks. But they're going to need more than a weekend getaway to catch up on their sleep.