Over the last few seasons, there has been a lot of discussion in the NBA and sports in general about player safety and wellness.
Athletes everywhere are doing more than ever to ensure their bodies are in peak physical condition and LeBron James has been at the forefront of this for a long time.
James has always been someone who has spared no expense when it comes taking care of his body and many others are now following his lead. The NBA has also looked to help out their players, making a ton of schedule changes to allow them to get more rest overall.
One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention in regards to player health is the importance of sleep. Baxter Holmes of ESPN recently brought this to light in an article with one player referring to lack of sleep as the biggest issue players face:
Still, despite the league’s best efforts — lengthening its schedule in recent years, reducing back-to-backs for five straight seasons (down to an average of 12.4 per team in the coming season), eliminating four-in-five stretches, reducing the nationally televised games that tip off at 10:30 p.m. ET, creating more rest days — sleep deprivation remains what one high-ranking league source intimately involved with player health calls “our biggest issue without a solution.”
Of course, James is someone who understands how important sleep is and has an entire routine dedicated to maximize his rest on the road:
Take LeBron James. The four-time MVP famously says he invests seven figures a year on his fitness and physical well-being. But the one thing James has come to appreciate more than anything is sleep. In James’ hotel rooms on the road, the temperature is set to 68-70 degrees, nearby electronics are shut off 30 to 45 minutes before he settles into bed — and when that happens, a sleep app on his phone serenades him with the soothing sound of rain falling on leaves. As James said on a podcast with author and efficiency expert Tim Ferriss: “There’s nothing more important than optimal REM sleep.”
It may not be something the average fan thinks about, but the lack of sleep in the NBA makes perfect sense. Especially for teams having to play back-to-back games on the road, they often arrive in a new city in the early morning and then must get up to have a walkthrough or shootaround.
Some experts have gone so far as to look at the schedule and be able to predict when a team is likely to lose or at least have a bad performance due to lack of sleep.
The league is doing what they can and individual players like James are trying to maximize rest, but there seems to be no true solution in sight for this issue.