July 22, 2019

To be fair to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, meetings can be boring.

Ross doesn't hold a lot of meetings with senior staffers, a person familiar with the department told Politico, and the reason is pretty simple. Ross reportedly "tends to fall asleep" during them, which is not the best look in any work environment, let alone a key government agency. That's doubly true if you're the boss.

When Ross does have to attend meetings, the source told Politico that the department is very careful about scheduling them. "There's a small window where he's able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep," the source said.

Commerce officials have disputed those statements. Department Press Secretary Kevin Manning called Ross a "tireless worker" who travels often.

Still, some of the agency's top officials are reportedly doing what they can to shield Ross from testifying at congressional oversight hearings, like he did in March about the 2020 U.S. census citizenship question. They probably don't want him dozing off on C-SPAN, though he did stay awake last time.

Those reports were also disputed by the department, however. "He's obviously going to have to testify again," one official said. Read more about the reported disarray in the Commerce Department at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

March 17, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned of nuclear war with North Korea on Friday, a grim and alarming statement not to be taken lightly. But with the American media sidelined during Tillerson's four-day visit to Asia, it has largely fallen on the South Korean press to report on the state of the negotiations, and how the U.S. and South Korea are planning to move forward together. It is through The Korea Herald, then, that it was revealed Tillerson cut short his meetings with South Korean leaders because he was too tired.

The Korea Herald writes:

… Tillerson's shortened diplomatic consultations and public events in Seoul spawned a flurry of speculation given a leadership vacuum and political uncertainties.

A joint news conference aside, Tillerson spent almost two and a half hours with Japanese Foreign Minister [Fumio] Kishida, including a dinner, and another hour with Prime Minister Abe. But his meetings with [Seoul's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se] and [acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn] were each confined to about an hour, without a lunch or dinner gathering. Seoul officials said the U.S. side opted not to have a meal together, citing the secretary's "fatigue." [The Korea Herald]

On the topic of North Korea, Tillerson cautioned Friday that "the policy of strategic patience has ended." But maybe he just needs a nap. Jeva Lange

April 4, 2016

For employees in America, Spanish siestas probably sound like a great idea. Across the pond, however, Spain might soon be putting an end to the traditional three-hour midday lunch break due to low levels of productivity in comparison to their siesta-less European neighbors, The Independent reports.

Spanish workers typically begin at 10 a.m. and work through 2 p.m. They then leave for up to three hours before returning to work through 8 p.m. Siestas originally began as a way for farmers to avoid brutal midday temperatures, although even despite putting in more hours of work than, say, Germans, Spanish workers average lower levels of productivity with siestas built into their workdays.

The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has headed the movement to cut the workday by two hours and end siestas, saying, "I will find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6 p.m." Rajoy has also expressed a desire to put Spain back on Greenwich Mean Time, with London, instead of one hour ahead like Eastern European countries. Jeva Lange

February 17, 2016

While there are some candidates who will wake up at the crack of dawn to hit the campaign trail, Sen. Ted Cruz is decidedly not one of them. Even as his opponents are rising-and-shining for 8 a.m. events across South Carolina, Cruz's earliest event this week began at 10 a.m. Instead, the Texas senator prefers evening events, eating his dinner typically around 10 or 11 p.m.

"If I wanted an answer to something, there was no way I'd send it before 10 a.m., because I knew it would get lost in the flow and he wouldn't get to it until later that night," Cruz's Senate communications director Amanda Carpenter explained to The Washington Post.

The night owl campaign has its pitfalls, however. In Missouri Valley, Iowa, Cruz showed up to a truck-stop at 10:45 p.m. At another stop, there was no taco pizza at "Taco pizza with Ted" because the event started too late, after 10 p.m. Sometimes Cruz has so many warm up speakers that attendees leave before he gets on stage; one weeknight in Des Moines, an event went so late that people left while Cruz was still talking.

"He does get up and does the early events, too, but not as many; he probably doesn't prefer to," Cruz's spokesman Rick Tyler said. "He does stay up late. He likes to stay up late, that's just the way his clock is." Jeva Lange

September 29, 2015

One month before the election in 2012, President Obama and Mitt Romney were in the throes of the final stretches of their campaigns. Both were pulling all-nighters, with the BBC writing that many candidates at such a point in their campaigns get no more than four hours of sleep for several nights in a row. While Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is over a year away from a general election, he claims to The New York Times that he's already running on four hours a night, too:

My lasting image from my travels with Trump was imprinted on me after we landed in Los Angeles late on the night of the Dallas rally. Trump, who says he regularly operates on four hours of sleep, appeared to be dragging for the first time. His face was flush, and his barreling gait had slowed as he crossed the tarmac into a waiting car. [The New York Times Magazine]

A healthy person requires eight hours of sleep a night, which has led to speculation about the effects sleep deprivation has on political candidates. For example, former President Bill Clinton (who The New York Times once reported was "famous for requiring just two or three hours of sleep a night") said on The Daily Show in 2007 that, "I do believe sleep deprivation has a lot to do with some of the edginess of Washington today," adding, "You have no idea how many Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate are chronically sleep deprived."

Could Trump's gaffes, then, be explained away by his lack of z's? Additionally, the profile in The New York Times Magazine catches Trump in a rare moment of admitting self-doubt, suggesting that in combination with his sleep schedule, perhaps Trump isn't quite so sure of his lock on the Republican primary as he lets on. Read the entire profile in The New York Times Magazine. Jeva Lange

May 29, 2015

Women get more sleep than men do, according to a new report on 941,329 smartphone users across 47 countries.

Despite women enjoying anywhere from four to 34 minutes of extra shut-eye, men wake up happier in all but three of those countries, according to data from Sleep Cycle, a smartphone app that tracks users' sleep cycles. Columbia, Portugal, and Ukraine were the exceptions. The study tracked voluntary participants between ages 18 and 55 over a 10-month period.

Gender aside, which country is the unhappiest rolling out of bed? That'd be Japan. Julie Kliegman

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