October 24, 2017 • Sports Medicine

Oklahoma State football promotes sleep to improve performance

Oklahoma State University’s football team this week climbed to 11th in the national rankings, and coaches are giving at least a portion of the credit to the team’s sleeping habits.

Oklahoma State University football coach Mike Gundy.

Head football coach Mike Gundy has long been an advocate of nutrition, hydration and sleep, and how all of it ties together to enhance performance. During last year’s American Football Coaches Association conference, Gundy spoke about the value of resting his players’ minds in addition to their bodies. It’s especially important during the end of the season, when the hits and grueling practices really begin to take their toll.

“We’re seeing more players today suffering from burnout,” Gundy said. “We lightened the yearly workload as a result.”

Last week, as part of Today.com’s series “Snooze You Can Use,” NBC News took a closer look at Oklahoma State’s sleep strategy. The goal for each player is at least eight hours of sleep each night, and coaches monitor their rest with the help of sleep data sensors.

Photo: K.T. King, Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma State team members are given bed times and asked to wear special glasses 90 minutes beforehand. The glasses block out blue light, helping the brain produce melatonin. Players also wear eye masks during sleep to block out all light, and room temperatures are set between 62 and 67 degrees.

  » RELATED: SportsMed: How sleep improves performance

According to Rise Science, two extra hours of sleep each night reduces player injury rates by 70 percent, and 40-yard dash times improve by 0.1 seconds.

The Journal of Sleep Research found that 45 percent of Americans sleep 6 ½ hours or less each night, making them “impaired” as if legally intoxicated.

Oklahoma State isn’t the only university that believes in the power of sleep. Clemson, as part of its $55 million football complex, built a “nap room” to help players rest. Professional athletes like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Paul George also have publicly spoken about their emphasis on sleep following games and workouts.

Check out an article published by Coach & Athletic Director last year, titled How Sleep Plays a Critical Role in Athletic Performance.

Click here to see the full report from Today.com.

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