Dear Dr. Zzzz

NFL players know the importance of sleep--they just differ on how to get it. All the snooze that's fit to print
October 03, 2004


Prince of Darkness
At least one night a week Favre is usually too sore to sleep well. "If I get banged around, it's usually Monday or Tuesday night I really feel it," he says. "Sunday nights I usually will be lying awake thinking about what I could have done better." The eight-time Pro Bowl selection, who is married and has two daughters, needs a solid seven hours a night, though, and his golden rule is, "The darker the better. The first hint of light in the room, and I'm awake." Favre says he rarely naps, but he must fight the urge sometimes when the Green Bay coaching staff starts talking X's and 0's. "Meetings put me to sleep easier than anything," he says. "At night if I can't sleep, I find myself wishing, Man if I could only be in a meeting right now, I'd be fine." --Peter King


XL Winks
An hour before Super Bowl XXVII, with more than 700 million people preparing to watch him take the field, Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson calmly removed his pads from his locker, laid his head upon them and took a nap. "Do you know how much time there is to kill on Super Bowl Sunday?" says Johnson, 36. "There's only so much rah-rah you can do." Johnson's not alone. Patriots QB Tom Brady reportedly took a short siesta in the locker room before the Super Bowl in 2002. But are pads a good pillow? "With a few towels bunched up on top," says Johnson, "it's really quite comfortable."


Eyes Wide Shut
Here's a rare sight: Miami defensive tackle Larry Chester with his eyelids down. Chester entered a Florida hospital last February thinking he had sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that affects big men, including many NFL linemen. "They had oxygen tubes hooked up to my nose and gave me Ambien to knock me out, but I was wide awake," says Chester, who's out with a knee injury. Turns out Chester, 28, was an old-fashioned insomniac; he now takes a sedative that helps him get five hours of shut-eye nightly. "Last off-season," he says, "I went two months watching the sun come up every day."


Cat Napper
The Texans defensive lineman could get Somnus, god of sleep, called for holding: Smith falls asleep anywhere, anytime--even on the bench during games. "If it's a really long offensive drive, I've caught myself nodding off," he says. "But anytime you're sitting anywhere for a long period, it can happen. At team meetings I'll stand up every once in a while, or I'm out." The Steelers' Antwaan Randle El, 25, has a similar ability to doze. Says Randle El's teammate Chris Hope, "There will be times we have to go to a meeting in five minutes, and he'll say, I'm going to sleep for three minutes. Wake me up." --Sleep reporter Lisa Altobelli