NFL Draft Preparation – The performance enhancement of sleep

Guest writer Christine J. Jones, a researcher at Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine Center, presents an interesting take on sleep and performance enhancement in college football players. 

The Research

TGC Sleepy Football PlayerWith the 2013 NFL draft recently coming to a close, finding means of performance enhancement is on the minds of many within the league.  For an increasing number of these individuals, attention is being turned to the field of sleep as a way to achieve this improved performance.  Our current research at CNSM Consulting has uncovered some commoving findings. Our study [currently pending submission for publication] followed the sleeping tendencies and drafting success of 560 Atlantic Coast Conference football players from 8 different universities over the course of 5 years.  A staggering number (over 50%!) of these players were found to meet the criteria for being excessively sleepy via standard clinical testing. We also found significant correlations between measures of collegiate sleep patterns and later NFL drafting success. Players who were drafted into the NFL slept, on average, significantly longer than players who were not drafted.

The Findings

This is big news for prospective NFL players. Getting that extra hour of good quality sleep may be the final piece of the optimal performance puzzle. While nutrition and hydration are factors that receive ample attention in the line up for athletes, sleep is often not making the cut, even with a growing body of research being produced in recent years.   This study may help to change that as it is the first study of its kind for football.  With the upcoming publication of this study, detailed information on the sleep patterns of these players will be available for coaches and athletes alike, along with a dissection of collegiate sleeping patterns.

The Results

TGC Football Player YawningNot everyone seems to be in the dark about the importance of sleep for athletes striving to compete at their maximum potential. Many professional athletic teams are turning to private consulting for sleep concerns. While it hasn’t reached the same uniformity of importance as having a team nutritionist or physical therapist, having a consulting physician who specializes in sleep is increasing in demand.  Paying attention to sleep has many benefits including improved concentration, memory, heart heath, lower stress, a better ability for the body to curb inflammation, and aiding in fat loss as opposed to muscle mass when dieting. It isn’t a drug or an extreme practice. It’s a basic human drive that you’ll want more of as an athlete aspiring for optimal performance:  Sleep.