On Morgan Freeman Falling Asleep During an Interview

There’s a hilarious piece of video, showing actor Morgan Freeman nodding off while his co-star Michael Caine is talking about their new movie, “Now You See Me.”

The poor guy’s body is probably just catching up with his schedule.

Having worked in television for a while, I’m surprised they didn’t cut to a solo shot of Michael Caine. But I guess this shoot was perhaps at a remote studio, and they just had the lock-down shot of the two actors with the movie poster in the middle.

This gives me an opportunity to speak on the subject of naps. Maybe our bodies are different, but I know that for me, naps are vital. They revitalize the body. They recharge the batteries.

I have often joked that I am the honorary president of the fictitious organization of my own creation, called NAPS—North American Proponents of a Siesta. Generally, no matter how good a night’s sleep I get, a late afternoon nap breathes new life into my day.

I remember reading about a conversation between Jackie Kennedy and LBJ, early in the days of his administration. She suggested to him that he consider how effective a daily nap can be and that that had been a helpful discovery of her late husband.

It was said of J. Edgar Hoover that he had a daily nap, usually around the same time (as I recall from a magazine article, about 2 in the afternoon). His secretary guarded his nap carefully, claiming to callers that he was unavailable because of an appointment.

The story goes that Attorney General Bobby Kennedy got frustrated with the FBI director after not being able to reach him, day in and day out (at that sacred hour). So one day, Kennedy barged into Hoover’s office during his alleged “appointment” that could not be disturbed, only to discover it was Hoover’s daily nap.

Thomas Edison was famous for taking catnaps as he was working on his multitude of inventions.

How many mistakes are made at work through sheer exhaustion? For most of us, it might not be that consequential. But in some industries, such mistakes could be quite deadly.

A friend of mine once quipped, “Fatigue doth make cowards of us all.”

Naps are good for us medically. Health writer Jennifer Soong shows the effectiveness of a nap: “What happens if you nap for more than 20 minutes? Research shows longer naps help boost memory and enhance creativity. Slow-wave sleep—napping for approximately 30 to 60 minutes—is good for decision-making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions.” (Jennifer Soong, “The Secret (and Surprising) Power of Naps,” WebMD Magazine, 2010).

Soong quotes Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D., a “sleep expert” who is the author of “Take a Nap! Change Your Life.” Says Mednick: “Daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation.”

Dr. Mednick adds, “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping…You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”

Soong contrasts a nap versus coffee: “Is taking a catnap better than reaching for a cup of joe? Yes, Mednick says, because caffeine can decrease memory performance. So you may feel more wired, but you are also prone to making more mistakes.”

Soong quotes a 58-year-old woman on the effectiveness of the daily nap: “If I don’t get my naps, I get cranky and unfocused by the end of a week of short nights…For me, that nap helps bring back my energy level.”

There’s a classic passage in the Bible about a man who fell asleep while Paul was speaking in Troas (in modern day Turkey). In fairness to the young man, Eutychus, Paul was preaching at a time when most would be sleeping.

Here is what Acts 20 says about it: “On the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday] we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” And this was in a day, to my knowledge, when they would not have had coffee readily available to them. Heaven help them if they had some wine with their supper.

Luke, author of Acts, continues: “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on.” I love the frankness of the Bible. Paul talked “on and on.”

The story concludes: “When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’ Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”

Poor Eutychus. He is forever remembered for this episode where his body caught up with him.

Naps can make you healthy and wise, but not if you’re take one while sitting in a third-story window or on a live television set.