We don’t hear much about the sleep of presidents and prime ministers except for the hours they get: President Obama, 6; George W. Bush, 8: Margaret Thatcher, 4. Their personal habits matter little compared with the decisions they make and the work they do in office.
But Dr. Li Zhisui wrote about insomnia at length in his biography of Mao Zedong, The Private Life of Chairman Mao, suggesting that our leaders’ sleep (or sleeplessness) may affect their decisions and behavior more than we think.
Every list of famous insomniacs is full of artists and actors, as well as historical giants such as Napoleon, Churchill, and Lincoln. Every person on the list is of European descent.
But research on insomnia is now coming out of the East, suggesting that insomnia is a phenomenon in Asian cultures too.