In the 1980s and 1990s, I did morning radio for about 15 straight years and learned about the importance of taking a nap every afternoon. After all, I got up at 4am, was on the air live from 5:30am to 10:00am, then had meetings or production or prep work to do for the next day. I usually left the station around noon to have lunch with my wife, a friend, or a colleague.

I’ve known other morning personalities who were able to go to sleep by 8-9pm and be fresh in the morning. I never got into that rhythm because my show was always topical, which demanded being able to talk the next day about things my audience might be chatting about with their friends and co-workers around the water cooler. The Monday Night Football game. The hot new movie. A concert I’d attended. Primetime TV shows, which drew much larger audiences than today with everyone watching at the same time. This was in the era before VCRs and DVRs and streaming platforms, when television was more of a communal experience. If I slept through them, it was a missed opportunity to make contemporaneous notes I could refer to in the morning.

So, I would nap in the afternoon, then get five or so hours of sleep at night (less if I stayed up to watch Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” because he was doing yet another episode with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker).

How can a person live on a schedule like that? First of all, I was a lot younger. But the real key was that from day one, I told myself I would always be tired. And I was, although no listener could ever tell because my adrenaline would start flowing at the top of the show and I’d keep my energy up straight through to the end.

But there were a few occasions when I had restless nights without a lot of quality REM sleep, and though no one else knew I was operating at less than full power, I absolutely did. I’d have to pause for a second to think of the exact word I wanted to say, or I’d miss an opportunity for a punchline or snarky comment to one of the other members of my on-air ensemble — skills which came so easily when I was rested.

By the time I got home, I could feel myself hitting a wall between 2pm and 3pm. I’d set my alarm set for 5pm. Which a few times freaked me out during the winter because it was dark outside by then and I’d panic, thinking it was five in the morning (!) and I was going to be late for my show. The anxiety would abate only after I noticed the little PM dot on my clock radio was lit. Phew!

Most of the time, I’d awaken from a nap feeling physically and mentally refreshed. Since this was decades before the internet made information available anytime, I would turn on a local TV newscast to see which breaking stories and developments I had to know about.

Meanwhile, my wife was working behind the scenes in one of those newsrooms or control rooms, so her work day was 3-11:30pm, pretty much the opposite of mine. During those years, we joked that our schedule was based on one of us telling the other, “Get out of the bed so I can use it!”

Fortunately for our marriage, we didn’t keep that schedule on weekends. We both slept late and spent a lot more time together. But I could always close my eyes and fall asleep right away, anywhere. Even today, 6+ years into my retirement, it’s not unusual for me to close a book I’m reading and nod off in my recliner in the late afternoon for an hour or so.

I began thinking about this topic the other day when President Biden announced he’s going to try to get more rest by not having any events after 8pm, and I discovered that he does not take naps during the day. I don’t know why, especially since his bedroom is right upstairs from his workspace, and if there’s something he has to deal with, he can be awakened and back in the Oval Office in minutes. A sixty to ninety minute power nap might do him a lot of good.

If it’s true he won’t do it, his media team should not allow him to do any interviews after 4pm or so. Schedule them instead at 9 or 10am, when he’s likely at his most alert. I’m not holding this up as any kind of excuse for his lousy performance at the debate a couple of weeks ago. I’m just saying that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is anyone — even if they’re not 81 years old — could suffer through those pauses and stumbles I mentioned earlier from my own experience.

After all, it’s not like Biden can catch up on his sleep in a courtroom like Trump does.