HEALTHY LIVING
02/13/2014 03:35 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2014

U.S. Figure Skater Jeremy Abbott Leaves Olympic Village To Get Some Sleep

Matthew Stockman via Getty Images

Before we even began to hear about #SochiProblems, Jeremy Abbott was thinking a couple of steps ahead. The U.S. figure skater, citing the difficulty he had at the last Olympic Games, brought his own mattress to Russia.

His hopes were that the queen-sized air mattress would limit the tossing and turning he did off the ice in Vancouver. "For the two and a half weeks I was in Vancouver I didn't sleep one full night because I was always afraid that I was going to roll off the bed," he told NBCOlympics.com.

But now, the 28 year old has taken things a step further: He's left the Olympic village.

"I had to step away and think, 'All right, I have a whole week and a half to really live this experience,'" he said in another NBCOlympics.com interview. "I came here to do a job and I have to stick to my business."

"I felt like I was a little off by staying in the village,” he said. "For me, it was about realizing that I was much more mentally strong than I've given myself credit for."

He stressed the importance of that mental toughness in a recent interview with the New York Times. "All of the work has been done physically," he said. "Once you're out there, it's all about the mental game."

Abbott is smart to prioritize sleep in his quest for Olympic hardware. Even just one extra hour of shuteye has a significant positive impact on not just recovery from the previous day's activities but on future performance.

"Sleep is food for the brain, sleep is fuel for exercise," James B. Maas, Ph.D. co-author of Sleep To Win! said in a 2013 HuffPost Live appearance. "Sleep is simply not valued in our 24/7 society. We treat it as a luxury and it's a necessity. If you sleep longer and better, you can be a better athlete overnight."

It may be paying off. Despite taking a hard fall in Thursday night's short program, he finished the routine and earned a 72.58, putting him in the lead after 12 skaters, USA Today reported.

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