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12 September 2017

What Donald Trump’s tweets reveal about his sleeping patterns

Trump has claimed he only needs four hours of sleep a night. His tweets suggest otherwise. 

By Jason Murugesu

Donald Trump has claimed he sleeps only four hours a night because of the “long hours” he’s working as president of the United States. 

However, a scientist from Germany has modelled Donald Trump’s sleeping patterns via his tweets and discovered that Trump is likely exaggerating. 

Till Roenneberg, a professor of chronobiolgy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich analysed 12,000 tweets sent from @realDonaldTrump from December 2015 to March this year, to estimate what times Trump went to bed and woke up. 

He hoped to shine a light to the public the wealth of data that we unwittingly reveal to the world about ourselves on the internet, but also show how useful such information can be to data-hungry scientists.

To determine when the account was actually used by Trump himself, Roenneberg had to characterise the types of usage on the account from different devices. The activity on @realDonaldTrump as Roenneberg’s paper published in Cell Current Biology highlights, can be split into three categories: web clients on work computers, an iPhone and an Android phone.

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Roenneberg found that the Android device was used most often in the early mornings and late evenings. The activity also showed “strong seasonality” which means that Twitter activity from this account followed when the sun set and rose throughout the 27 months of activity that was analysed. 

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Usage on the iPhone showed no such seasonality which Roenneberg concluded meant that it was used by multiple users. The Twitter activity on work computers predictability followed work hours. Tweets coming from these devices, Roenneberg concluded, must be by multiple people from Trump’s team. 

As the Twitter activity on the Android device was so predictable, it can be safely assumed that it was controlled by one user – that user being the 45th president of the United States. This has also been determined via less scientific methods prior by those who have observed that the account’s angrier tweets come from Android devices

Interestingly, Roenneberg found that Trump’s Android device sent plenty of tweets during the night in the later months of 2015, but “then decreased nocturnal tweet activity gradually to a point that it was mostly absent over the past year”. It appears that the Trump has been having fewer restless nights since becoming president.

Roenneberg was able to figure out when Trump was asleep by determining when his Twitter activity on his Android device was minimal. Nearly 70 percent of his “tweet-less times” were between 10pm and 6am. 

Assuming that it takes 15 minutes for one to fall asleep, and another 15 minutes to wake up, Roenneberg estimated that Trump sleeps for roughly six and a half hours. Lying Trump. What a shock! 

The next steps would be determine if Trump only tweets “Sad!” in the mornings due to feelings of melancholy and “fire and fury” at 10 minutes past dinner-time as his chefs are late and he is hangry. Future historians may even be able to ascertain whether Trump was sleep-deprived when he declared nuclear war. 

Unfortunately, since Trump joined the iPhone bandwagon in March 2017, it has been more difficult to determine whose activity on the account is Trump’s and whose belong to his team.

Or as Trump would say – Sad!