These Famous Athletes Rely On Sleep For Peak Performance
Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson, two-time NBA champion LeBron James and nine-time French Open champ Rafael Nadal all rely on ample sleep to maximize their athletic performance. | Getty Images
For professional athletes, exercise, diet and training are crucial to maximizing their abilities. But in recent years, more and more athletes have been opening up about another performance enhancer: sleep. For example,many NBA stars swear by the benefits of napping, both on game days and off days. In nearly every sport, sleep is now considered key to achieving peak performance. Here are some of the athletes who have spoken up about its performance-enhancing powers.
Martin Rickett/PA Archive
The NBA's recently minted MVP tells HuffPost via email that he tries to get "a solid 8 hours of sleep each night."
"I’m up pretty early most days so I can fit in two or three workouts," he says. "Every day is a new chance to challenge myself and push my training to the next level, but I can only do that if I keep my energy up. Sleep is an important part of that."
Christian Petersen via Getty Images
Fitzgerald, the eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for Arizona, sleeps nine hours per night. "[On game days], that night I will for sure get 10 or 11 hours," he told HuffPost. "I always get my rest and I think that's one of the things that people don't talk often about. Your body heals and repairs itself better than anything. Being able to get some sleep really does a great cause for your recovery and helping you wake up with a renewed, fresh mental and physical outlook."
When Wie was 10 years old, she became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship. Most recently, she won the 2014 U.S. Women's Open title. "I slept for 16 hours once. Early in the week of the Sony Open I went to bed at 9 p.m. and woke up at 1 the next day," she told Golf Digest. "When I can, I'll sleep more than 12 hours, and I don't feel very good if I get less than 10."
Nash, a two-time league MVP, sleeps 10 hours per night. "Diet and sleep are probably the two biggest tools to recover -- definitely something that's hard to do when you're traveling a lot," he told the New York Times. "You have a busy, stressful schedule, but it's something you have to make a priority."
He's also a big fan of shorter snoozes. "I nap every game day," he told HuffPost. "I'll try to nap for as long as I can. A half hour to two hours on game days is usually what it is."
Rose, a former No. 1 pick and NBA MVP, enjoys a customary three-hour nap before every night game. "Being healthy is a complete lifestyle for me," Rose says. "It allows my brain to function at a very high degree so I can comprehend all the new things that are thrown at me. It also allows me to sleep well so that I am rested when I need to perform."
When Murray won Wimbledon in 2013 -- becoming the first Brit to do so in 77 years -- he was sleeping 12 hours per night. "Rest is so important," he told The Mirror. "On the days when I am not playing I try to get in and do my work early, deal with everything else that has to happen, and then get home and have a nap. … I don’t normally have any trouble sleeping. I sleep well. You need rest to make sure you recover properly."
Watson, a 13-year NBA veteran, tries to sleep eight hours per night during the season. "Napping is a good way to catch up on rest," Watson told HuffPost. "They are a must because the emotions from a game can keep you up until 3:00 in the morning. ... Sleep is big."
Sharapova, still just 27 years old, has won 32 WTA singles titles, including the "career" Grand Slam -- winning all four -- and most recently, her second French Open. The tennis star says that when it comes to special preparation for big tournaments, resting is the priority. "The only thing I do is sleeping longer. I love to sleep, it's my hobby," Sharapova says.
Email me at email@example.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure and catch my NBC Sports Radio show, Kup and Schultz, which airs Sunday mornings from 9-12 ET, right here.