Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

Find a Center
Use the following fields to locate sleep centers in your area.

Search radius:

Was Diane Sawyer drunk or sleep deprived during election?

Filed in
  • Sleep Debt
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • television

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Nov 09, 2012
Email   Print

The internet has been abuzz in speculation since Tuesday night, when ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer appeared to be intoxicated during the live broadcast of the 2012 presidential election. Sawyer's speech slurred, and she acted strangely as the election results came in:

A spokesperson for Sawyer denies the rumors that she was drunk telling the Daily Mail, “Diane’s fine, she’s exhausted. Diane’s been up for days and she’s had many sleepless nights. She was covering the hurricane and then preparing for the election broadcast.”

Could someone that was sleep deprived appear as if they were drunk? The answer is yes, says Dr. William C. Kohler, Medical Director of the Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill, Fla.

“Sleep deprivation can have significant effects on a person’s cognitive performance and their emotions,” says Kohler. “If the person was taking any type of sedating medicine and was also sleep deprived, the effects would be even more noticeable.”

The causes, symptom and effects of sleep deprivation vary from person to person. Sleep deprivation may effect:


  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Symptoms of depression


  • Lack of concentration
  • Longer reaction times
  • Lack of coordination
  • Poor decision
  • Increased errors
  • Forgetfulness


  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Sleep deprivation can happen to anyone. It is more common in adolescents, among whom restricted sleep times are common, caregivers who look after the needs of a family member who has a chronic illness, shift workers, people who have sleep disorders that cause insufficient sleep and people who have a medical condition that causes insufficient sleep, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Kohler adds that in order to function at your best, you need both the proper quantity of sleep and a good quality sleep. “I don’t know what happened with Diane Sawyer, but if add up the excitement and stress of the election, having to work long hours, possibly taking caffeine to keep her awake or meds to help her sleep, all of those things could potentially have a sedating effect and make her appear as if she were drunk.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 Michelle 09 Nov
    Get that woman some sleep!