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January 20, 2017
IF THERE WAS EVER a job that might make some one suffer from insomnia, surely being president of the United States is it. If you love flipping through glossy magazines for a glimpse at celebrity bedroom designs, you’re probably also curious about how the most powerful man in the world gets his 40 winks.
The presidential bedroom in the White House has changed a great deal over the years, depending on the tastes of the man in charge.
Though it’s unlikely that Abraham Lincoln ever actually slept in this ornate bed, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln loved it. Several later presidents slept in it, including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge. Maybe they were hoping some of the great man’s wisdom would rub off through the horsehair mattress?
With so much history surrounding the White House president’s bedroom, we’re not surprised that the place could be haunted. Shortly after moving into the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama reported hearing strange noises in the hallway one night – but neither she nor the president found anything to explain the eerie sounds.
Congress gives each First Family a budget to redecorate the White House living areas when they move in, and they get to make almost any changes they want. Over time, this has led to rooms in the West Wing being used for many purposes. Some presidents have slept in what is now the living room or an office, so there’s no single room that has hosted every presidential pillow.
Well, sort of. Jacqueline Kennedy kept two twin beds pushed together while living in the White House. This was reportedly because John F. Kennedy preferred sleeping on a rock-hard mattress for his back, while his wife liked a much softer mattress. Not a bad idea to keep the peace!
William Howard Taft was a famously large man, and his obesity had a fairly common side effect: sleep apnea. Though undiagnosed at the time, there are reports of him falling asleep at his desk, presumably after a miserably sleepless night spent unable to breathe well.
Bill Clinton was famous for sleeping only five to six hours each night, a habit he picked up in law school and continued throughout his presidency. It makes sense, since there’s an endless amount of work the president must do, but there’s evidence that it took a toll on his health: He required heart surgery in his 50s and has since slowed his roll a bit.
On the opposite end of both the political and sleep spectrum, George W. Bush reported heading back to the White House for an afternoon nap on occasion – a fact First Lady Laura Bush teased him about. Sleep experts are on the president’s side on this one: They recommend catching up on sleep to get your eight hours in however you can.
A look back on the history of the White House and its occupants is clear: There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep! Whether you prefer to catch a nap or sleep on a firm mattress, make sure you’re comfortable as you drift off to get a good night’s rest.