Pro Football Teams Pushing Sleep for Success

“Parity” is the buzzword in the National Football League, meaning every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl every year, and the league has gone to great lengths to promote equality among the franchises.  Because of that, it’s not surprising that teams are looking for any advantage possible.  Several of them are looking at the sleep habits of players as a way to get an edge.

It makes sense that professional sports franchises would try to improve their players’ sleep habits, as it’s been proven by scientific studies that better sleep improves athletic performance.  Several NFL teams are taking this to heart, and using it to try to win more games.  Here are some examples:

  • Prior to a 1 p.m. game against the Jets in New Jersey this season, the San Francisco 49ers moved the entire team to a hotel outside of Youngstown, Ohio—not because they had any particular reason to be in Ohio, but to give the team a chance to get acclimated to Eastern time.
  • The Baltimore Ravens coaching staff has begun to take measures to combat jetlag on long trips: Before the Ravens fly west to play San Diego next week, their plan is to stay at home but simply start practices and meetings later until they are operating on West Coast-time while in Baltimore.
  • The New York Jets set all temperatures in the team hotel rooms to 68 degrees.  Studies have shown that the best temperature for sleep is between 62 and 68.  The Jets also recommend that players sleep in pitch-black rooms.

Football is unique among major team sports in that there’s comparatively very little travel involved. Professional basketball teams fly out after games, making for late arrivals but plenty of time for sleep before the next game. Baseball teams spend countless nights on the road, but are in the same city for three or four days, where their sleep schedules can be maintained and monitored by the team.

It’s too soon to tell whether the actions of the 49ers, Ravens and Jets are leading to success, particularly since so many other factors go into a win in the NFL.  However, as of the time this article was written, the 49ers and Ravens were in a strong position to make playoff runs, while the Jets players had lost twice as many games as they had won.

Source: Wall Street Journal