Self 19 June 2017
You hear your alarm go off at 6:30 A.M., and you groggily tap the snooze button, sinking back into the fluffy, cotton covers. Encased in the blankets like a wool burrito, you drift off into a delicious few minutes of sleep, savoring every second. The next time you're awakened by the ringer, however, you don't feel more rested. Instead, you're more dazed and drowsy than ever. What happened? Do you need to hit the “snooze" button again?
Contrary to conventional wisdom, hitting that tempting option on your phone doesn't lead to a more rested state. Research has shown that snoozing actually causes sleep inertia – a physiological state of impaired cognitive and motor performance that is present immediately after awakening. There are a few reasons for poorer functioning caused from pressing that button, ranging from the physiological to the psychological.
Interrupting the Sleep Cycle
Throughout a night of sleep, a person typically progresses through a series of four to five sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle consists of four stages, including one REM stage and three non-REM stages. When you awake, hit the snooze button, then fall back to sleep, you're more likely to fall back into the beginning of a sleep cycle. This translates into the production of hormones that encourage deep sleep.
This means that you're starting to dip into a deep slumber, only to be rudely awoken by the alarm ten minutes later. According to psychologist Maria Konnikova, the beginning of a sleep cycle “is the worst point to be woken up," resulting in us feeling like we slept poorly.
There's another piece of useful information that can be drawn from the sleep cycle. If you often find yourself waking up feeling groggy, the trouble may be that you're waking up at the wrong part of your sleep cycle. To remedy this, try setting your alarm a few minutes later, or a few minutes earlier. Trial and error will help you find your sweet spot, and once you do, stick to a regular sleep schedule.
Our Brains Become Confused
On a behavioral level, hitting the snooze button bewilders our minds. Psychology professor and behavioral economist Dan Ariely posits that by hitting snooze, we're training our minds to be confused by the alarm sound. Our minds like consistency, and when we press that button, instead of recognizing the alarm sound as the cue to “get out of bed," it becomes the tone for “let's sleep for a few minutes more." This of course means that each time you hear your alarm go off, your brain will expect to get “just a few more" minutes of sleep, making you never want to step out of bed.
The more you snooze, the more confused your body and brain will get, which means you'll feel more out of it when you actually wake up, even though you got more sleep. Furthermore, this type of grogginess and sleep inertia can last for up to two to four hours, leaving you feeling unproductive even after you've showered, breakfasted, and gone into the office.
Throwing off Your Sleep Schedule
By pressing that alluring button, you're changing the times you get up every day. On Monday, you may awake at 7:00 AM, but on Tuesday, you may press the snooze button three times, leaving your bed at 7:30 AM. This inconsistency throws off your internal clock, and may mean that your body won't know when to start feeling sleepy. You'll likely start going to sleep later, resulting in more sleep deprivation.
Getting a full night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep is extremely important and beneficial, both to health and wellbeing. Not getting enough sleep results in fatigue, which has been linked to poorer and riskier decision making. Dr. Timothy Roehrs, the Director of research at the Sleep Disorders Research Center, found in a study that the sleepy subjects made riskier decisions that put them at risk of losing money, while the alert subjects made more prudent choices.
So What is a Person to do?
The best way to counter this problem is to set your alarm for the time you have to get up, and then to actually get up when it goes off. It will help to set it for the same time every day, for your body to establish an internal schedule. Do this for a prolonged period of time, and the consistency will ensure that you'll feel naturally sleepy at the end of the day, meaning you'll be sleeping at your bedtime when your body needs it. This in turn will make it more likely for you to wake up naturally, unprompted by an alarm (and of course, no snooze button!).
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.