As the 2014 Winter Olympics begins in Sochi, one American ice skater has gone to great lengths to make sure that he gets the good night of sleep that he needs in order to ensure his competitive edge. Jeremy Abbott brought his own bed.
According to, the 28-year old Abbott, sleep has been a struggle for him through much of his life. He reports that he has always tossed and turned a great deal at night, and attributes much of his poor performance in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver to sleep deprivation. Similarly, he suffers from nightmares, and told representatives from the news media that in the run up to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships he was having them every single night, dreaming that he came in seventh at each night’s competition and failing to make the Olympic team. That didn’t happen, but his thrilling performance at the nationals doesn’t erase his concerns or memories about what had happened at the last Olympics on the twin bed that was provided.
“I toss and turn a lot. 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.”
The bed in Vancouver was a twin size, so this time around, Abbott went to the trouble of purchasing a queen-sized air mattress and bringing it with him.
“The mattress is really high; it’s a legitimate bed. Getting it here was a pain; it weighs 25 pounds. I literally packed a suitcase just for the bed, but it’s definitely worth it.”
Packing problems aside, there is much to be said for the importance of getting a good night’s sleep before an important test of any kind; the body and brain both use the time while we are sleeping to refresh, restore and renew, and without the right amount of rest an athlete will not be able to turn in peak performance. Beyond failing to do well, studies have shown that when an athlete is able to get extra sleep, beyond what they normally provide for their body, performance can actually be significantly improved and enhanced. Stanford University’s Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory researcher Cheri Mah has done extensive research into the topic, testing the impact of extra sleep on athletes ranging from football players and basketball players to tennis players and swimmers. Regardless of the sport, her findings have been similar – better sleep improved performance, particularly when it is built up over an extended period of time.
As for Abbott, let’s all hope that his air mattress purchase will provide him with more than just the benefit of having a bed that he is comfortable sleeping on. Hopefully it will allow him to focus on staying on his feet on the ice rather than on staying safely in his bed through the night while he sleeps, allowing him to skate to the win that eluded him in Vancouver four years ago.