By Jamie Lisanti
There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep. A long, uninterrupted slumber and a refreshed feeling in the morning are what most of us wish for but seldom attain. And in this quest for quality zzz’s, athletes are no different than you and I.
“Healthy sleep is essential for every adult to be at their best,” says Cheri D. Mah, a physician and research scientist at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Human Performance Center who studies the relationship between sleep and performance in elite athletes. “Sleep can enhance motor skills and learning and is essential for optimizing cognitive performance, such as your reaction time and decision-making.”
Over the past decade, Mah has worked with various teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB—including the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Toronto Blue Jays and San Jose Sharks, among other teams—to help their athletes find the best approach to getting better rest and ultimately improved performance. It turns out that even elite professionals have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and achieving that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed mood when the alarm sounds. Many don’t sleep enough and often go to work feeling tired or sluggish. Sound familiar?
The first step to reversing these problems is creating an optimal situation for sleeping, no matter if you are at home or on the road, Mah says. “Your sleep environment should be like a cave: dark, quiet, cool and comfortable,” she says.
Read on for details on creating the ultimate sleeping chamber, plus more methods and tools athletes use to get a better night’s rest.