After that heartbreaking near-miss in the playoffs last season, the Ravens are “turning over every stone, looking at everything in our program, to find any way to get better,” says coach John Harbaugh. Cue a cute montage of Joe Flacco & co. lifting weights, sprinting down the field, wearing leggings and doing yoga… and sleeping?
For years, coaches have been working with the idea that what players do off the field has a huge impact on their performance on the field — hence diet and scheduling tweaks. Combine that with the fact that it’s easier to do your job (even if your job is to knock over 300-pound Steelers) when you’re well-rested, and you get the Ravens’ possible new sleep schedule. After considering sleep studies by the U.S. military, Harbaugh is paying new attention to how his players rest up — and it might make all the difference.
As the team’s website helpfully points out, “studies show that getting between four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep a night will provide about 80 percent restoration, allowing a person to do ‘well enough’ the next day. But the Ravens aren’t looking for their players to simply perform ‘well enough.’ They want peak performance, which requires sleeping about 8 to 10 hours a night for most players.” In other words, mandatory sleep — a pretty dreamy job requirement, if you ask me.
Some of the tweaks the team is considering include making practice times a little later (starting practice at 9 instead of 8:15), and traveling to West Coast games a little earlier, so players can better adjust to the new time zone. The team is also considering switching its off day from Tuesday to Monday, which would give players a chance to get more sleep the night after a game. “The night after a game is typically one of the most difficult nights of the week to get sleep because factors like travel and excitement often interfere with the body trying to relax. Even if players sleep for a few hours on the flight home, they still won’t get 8 to 10 hours of continuous sleep, which means they will begin the week on a short night’s rest. Giving them Monday off could allow the players to sleep in and then ideally come to work on Tuesday completely refreshed,” writes Garrett Downing, one of the team’s staff writers. And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we prefer our Ravens refreshed. Just make sure they get that Ray Lewis alarm clock for when it is finally time to wake up.
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