“Maybe it’s because the lack of sleep that some politicians make so many mistakes”


Journalist and RTP 1 news anchor João Adelino Faria believes that “globalization has brought to many the wrong idea that sleep is dispensable”. “Fortunately, in many countries such as the United States, the sleep culture is starting to change and there is a stronger conviction that without a good nights’ sleep there is no health, no beauty, no success, no victories”, he says.


As a journalist, have you ever covered major events in which sleep was most affected?
Many times. I have gone days without sleep and the most affected has always been me, because my reasoning ability and my energy in live newscasts gradually disappeared, to the point of me literally falling to the ground, exhausted.

You were correspondent in London for several years. How would you describe the British politicians in their relationship with sleep? It is known that Lady Thatcher was a “short sleeper”…
Being a Portuguese, it was complicated. They start to work around six in the morning, at noon their work is almost done and around four in the afternoon they are on their way home. They sleep early and little, and they think we Latin people all sleep naps and are lazy. I had to work double to be respected by my colleagues from BBC and SkyNews. However, I have learned from them that a nice and proper tea before bedtime makes wonders and can produce good dreams.

Many politicians claim to function on few hours of sleep. Should we stay calm in the face of the crucial decisions they make?
Never. And if they sleep little, I do not believe it is because of work. Maybe it is because of the lack of sleep that some of them make so many mistakes. Furthermore, some of them who make such statements reveal a lack of intelligence when they use this as a kind of trophy.

Former Greek Minister Yanis Varoufakis said that he was relieved because he was free of the “hectic timetable, which was absolutely inhuman, just unbelievable”, during which he slept two hours every day for five months
They like to exaggerate… I refer to what I said in the previous answer.

Vladimir Putin said that, whenever he is asleep, today’s Prime Minister Medvedev stays awake and this is how they manage to govern a large country with many different time zones. Is it just a gag or does it contain some truth?
I don’t think so. This kind of statement gets to be goofy. Instead, as I learned with great heads of government and State, they should say that there is nothing like sleeping well to make intelligent and wise decisions. Whether Putin and Medvedev sleep separately or at the same time is irrelevant… too much information [laughs].

You have lived abroad and you got to know several countries. Have you noticed very different sleep habits in relation to ours?
I think the hours of waking and sleeping are very different indeed. Unfortunately, I believe that globalization has brought to most of the world the idea that sleep is dispensable and that we should take every hour for anything but sleeping. It couldn’t be more wrong! Fortunately, in many countries, like the United States, for example, the sleep culture is starting to change and there is now a stronger conviction that without a good night’s sleep there is no health, no beauty, no success, no victories. Without good sleep we don’t get very good things in our lives.

What is the literary text on sleep or dreams that you like best?
William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

What about a work of art?
Sleeping Girl. A pop art painting by Roy Lichtenstein that I discovered many years ago in Los Angeles.

Are you careful about your sleep behaviours, such as keeping regular bedtime hours, not drinking coffee, etc.?
The last coffee is at lunchtime and I always try to sleep seven hours. During the night, I never turn on the lights until I get up. In the summer I take 10-minute naps.

Do you ever wake up in the night with an idea? Do you usually write it down?
Yes, but I don’t write it down. I try to distract my brain to go back to sleep. Most of my best ideas come in the shower. When sleep does not come, after a day full of worries, a good tea or Gaba (a natural supplement) can help.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because of a strange phone call?
We all have. Unfortunately, it was never a nice one.

What do you think about the expression that God does not sleep?
It is a popular expression that has nothing to do with sleep.

Have there been times when you felt that sleep was good counsellor? To what extent did it help?
For me sleep has always been the best counselor.

Have you ever had insomnia? Are you an “owl” or a “lark”?
I have had many. I have been an owl, but never a lark. Today I stand in the middle of the two.