Ross Kelly, CBS Local Sports

Just when you think coaches and programs have thought of every possible way to gain a “competitive advantage” over their opponents, something new pops up. In this case sleep patterns and habits are being investigated more thoroughly than ever before to ascertain how sleep can affect a player’s on-field performance.

The University of Houston is one of those schools at the forefront of monitoring sleep patterns for its football team. According to the Wall Street Journal, their coach, Tom Herman, has even gone as far as to set aside afternoon nap sessions during the players’ daily schedule.

Other coaches, like Butch Jones of Tennessee, has equipped the Volunteers’ dorm room beds with sensors that measure heart rate, respiration, movement, and can determine how long it takes each individual to fall asleep. Jones also knows that college kids are prone to checking their smartphones in the middle of the night which further interrupts their sleep patterns. To combat that, the Volunteers have been outfitted with special glasses that block certain wavelengths of light and may make it easier to sleep. Jones is really delving into the science of sleep patterns and educating his team in the process:

“If anyone’s having a hard time sleeping at night and you’re on your phone, it’s usually going to take an hour longer to go to sleep. We’re trying to really educate them and provide them the means to really be able to rest and recover.”

Some may scoff at the measures programs are taking in regards to sleep but their is actual evidence that more sleep, and deeper sleep, helps performance. A 2010 study by Stanford’s Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine found that their football players who attempted to sleep 10 hours per night saw improvements in their 20-yard shuttle and 40-yard dash times. The extra sleep also improved the players daytime energy levels and reduced daytime fatigue.

Ross Kelly is an Associated Producer for CBS Local Sports. He is from Louisiana and is a fan of all sports, but not of any teams (except LSU). He can be reached at ross.kelly@cbs.com.

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