Professional athletes are bound to a vicious cycle of training, practicing, traveling, and playing games during their grueling seasons — so making time for proper R and R can be a challenge.
These players can plan acupuncture, massages and cold/hot tub treatments to help rejuvenate their bodies, but nothing aids in recovery more than sleep. And yes, the hours matter, with the National Sleep Foundation recommending that young adults (18-25) and adults (26-64) get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
We spoke to a handful of athletes about their sleep schedules to find out how the pros maximize their snoozes. New York Mets teammates Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores broke down their regimens as the arduous 162-game MLB season nears its end. NFL players like Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams admitted that they sleep as much as possible — but Adams admitted he's challenged by his deep love for video games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. To add some extra perspective, retired NFL star Shannon Sharpe shared how his sleeping schedule changed from his playing days to now, having turned 50 in June.
1. Leonard Fournette
Jacksonville Jaguars running back, 23
"Sleep is very important [for rest and recovery before and after games]. I just bought a sleeping bed. It tells you what temperature I need to keep my room at, so I could sleep comfortably, and how many hours I should get. It’s very important because the more hours you sleep, you recover faster. Your reaction on the field is much quicker if you get rest than if you didn’t get any rest, so sleeping helps you a lot.”
2. Davante Adams
Green Bay Packers wide receiver, 25
“Usually 11:00, 11:30 [p.m.] is when I get to bed. It’s consistent through the week, whether I have a game or not. I wake up — give or take — about 7:00, 7:30, depending on the day. I try to get my eight hours. Sometimes it’s seven, seven and a half, around there. I try to have my body on the same schedule, so it gets used to it. Sleep is one of the biggest things to kind of rejuvenate the body. I take it pretty serious. Depending on my sleep, if I could get a nap in, I get that in there to kind of give me a little boost. I try to get a 30-minute nap in at some point.”
3. Wilmer Flores
New York Mets third baseman, 27
"I usually go to bed around 1:00, 1:30 [a.m.] and I usually like to get eight to nine hours of sleep. Then, I’ll have breakfast around 9:00 and take a nap for another hour. You have to eat the right things, but you have to eat four to five times a day, so, you could have energy. If I have a night and a day game, I just make adjustments — wake up earlier and just go out there and play. I’d wake up at 8:00, 8:30, have breakfast and then come here [to Citi Field]. You just have to make the adjustment. You think sleeping doesn’t affect you, but it really does. It’s going to affect you — either your energy or you might dehydrate because you didn’t sleep well."
4. Jay Bruce
New York Mets rightfielder, 31
“My sleeping schedule has evolved, shifted, and changed a lot over the years. I got to the Major Leagues at 21 years old, so, needless to say, my sleep habit was a little bit different than it is now. I would stay up very, very late and wake up very, very late. As I got a little older, I really tried to get up and get moving around. I don’t necessarily have an hour pattern that I try to stick to. [Ideally] seven to nine [hours]. But I try to get up by 9:30 [a.m.]. Then, I had kids and that changed a lot. One thing I realized having kids is you do not need nearly as much sleep as you think you need. But say if we’re going to the West coast, sometimes we go on three-city road trips and you’re on planes a lot. It comes down to just getting sleep. I don’t try to put anything into a certain box or schedule. I try to get as much sleep as I can. Once I get over to a time zone, when I wake up, I wake up. My body gets adjusted to it and I just go about my business. I think baseball, for sure, has tried to get to get in front of it, putting sleeping rooms in stadiums because I think they realize that sleep is very important. In the offseason, I’m very regimented with my sleep schedule. I’m in bed before 9:00 [p.m.] and I’m up at 6:00, 6:15 [a.m.]. I feel like you get a lot done in the morning, you’re a little bit more clear-minded then. I like to do some hunting, too, so I get up early to do that. But I definitely cherish my sleep. I think it’s important.”
5. Trae Waynes
Vikings cornerback, 26
"During the season, I always make sure I’m in bed by 10 p.m. My fiancée and I watch an episode of one of our favorite Netflix shows and then turn everything off for the night. I can’t sleep with a fan on because it makes me stuffy the next morning, so I always make sure I have the fan off and the blinds down and at least two blankets. I don’t use any products to help me sleep better, except my Sleep Number bed, if you consider it a product. If it was a long, hard practice or we had a game that day, I definitely try to be in bed earlier as I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I know that I will need more rest in order to recover more quickly for what is to come the following day. I get weekly massages to aid in my rest and recovery. You really have to take care of your body when you’re in the facility and when you’re at home. When I focus on sleep and get better quality sleep instead of more quantity, I always feel better. I always ask my fiancée what my “sleep number was last night” just to see if I really did sleep well — then I try to beat it the next night."
6. Shannon Sharpe
Fox Sports 1 Undisputed host and NFL Hall of Famer, 50
“As I’ve gotten older, I don’t require as much sleep as I did. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older. I didn’t sleep well when I played [in the NFL, either]. I have never been a great sleeper. I have so much on my mind and I’m so anxious. I have to read up on so much [to be prepared for Undisputed]. I’m in bed, asleep by 9:30, 10:00; 10:30 p.m. the latest. Five, six hours is plenty good for me. I do nap during the day. If I’m just resting, I’m OK. I try not to work out late.”
This article originally appeared in Men's Health US.