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BOSTON — In today’s world, coaches and front office staff in every sport are constantly searching for the next big thing to give their team an edge over the competition. While most professional teams are purchasing expensive strength training equipment and science fiction movie-like virtual reality technology to enhance performance, the Red Sox are investing in something slightly different: blankets and pillows.
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The Boston Red Sox on Monday unveiled the team’s newly designed sleep room at Fenway Park. The sleep room, complete with mattresses, sheets and pillows from Red Sox official performance bedding partner Bedgear, is windowless and soundproof. Equipped with two bunk beds, players are free to access the sleep room at any point during the day. During spring training, every member of the Red Sox was fitted for a customized performance pillow; upon entering the sleep room, players go over to the pillow cart, grab their personalized pillow, and then doze off on one of the four Bedgear mattresses.
How could a pillow possibly be “customized?” Bedgear fits players for pillows based on sleep position (whether they sleep on their side, back, or front) and body size (broad or narrow shouldered). These performance pillows are also temperature regulated, lined with a special fabric and ventilation design so they always remain cool. You can now literally, be “as cool as the other side of the pillow,” as the late great Stuart Scott once said.
In the very back of the gym lined with blue turf and filled with top-of-the-line exercise and strength training equipment is the sleep room — which was reminiscent of a small dungeon. At first glance, the room simply looked like someone had cleaned out a storage closet and made just enough room for two bunk beds; nothing out of the ordinary. But upon laying down on the mattress and the comfortable, cool Bedgear performance pillow, the benefits that this unassuming room could give to a team could be understood.
Lately, many athletes and teams across every sport are starting to realize the invaluable benefits of a good night’s sleep, including alertness and optimal performance on the field: NFL running back Rashad Jennings spends his nights sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady goes to bed early at 8:30pm every night while wearing his infrared Under Armour pajamas, and college athletic programs are beginning to hire sleep experts on staff.
Bedgear, founded in 2009, works with a wide range of professional athletes across every sport: “We are currently partners with the Boston Red Sox and Dallas Mavericks, but have also worked with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers, Denver Broncos, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues, among others,” said Kristi Gulino, Director of Communications for Bedgear.
At elite levels of competition, athletes are big, strong, and fast, which is why it is vital to get every possible advantage in order to get an edge over the competition—this includes getting quality sleep off the field, so that athletes can perform their best on it. Recent sleep deprivation studies have suggested that lack of sleep can negatively affect decision-making, accuracy, reaction time, and overall well-being. Especially in a sport like baseball, a game predicated on intense focus and mental stamina, sleep could be the difference between winning and losing.
With more and more successful teams and players continuing to stress the importance of sleep, as well as the constant development of wearable technology and tools that claim to track and promote sleep (e.g. Under Armour Record, WHOOP, Fitbit), it appears that sleep is one of the next frontiers in athletic performance and recovery.
Prior to an at-bat, Red Sox players will continue to grab their helmets from the rack in the dugout to protect themselves from errant pitches. In the clubhouse, they can now grab their personalized Bedgear pillows from the pillow cart to provide extreme comfort in their new sleep room.