When you become a parent, you quickly realize that for a few years, you have to give up on the idea of a regular sleep schedule, due to the tiny, screaming human who seems determined to keep you from ever sleeping for more than two hours at a time. It turns out, professional basketball players have a similar experience, as several NBA players have begun speaking out about how the grueling schedule makes sleep deprivation an unavoidable reality.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris has been the most active advocate for sleep, as he explained to ESPN that he believes this is a serious issue that is being overlooked by the NBA.
“I think in a couple years,” Harris says, “[sleep deprivation] will be an issue that’s talked about, like the NFL with concussions.”
Hassan Whiteside, a center for the Portland Trailblazers, agrees with Harris, saying that it is “impossible” to get consistent sleep during the season.
The reason regular sleep is such an unattainable reality for NBA players is the amount of travel that is required for their 82-game schedule. Sometimes, teams will be forced to play three games in four nights, which can require players to be on an overnight flight less than two hours after a game ends.
After six months, it’s impossible for this type of schedule not to grind a player down. Even NBA executives have started to acknowledge the sleep crisis, with two NBA GMs calling it a “very big problem” and “a real issue” for the league.
“We have a large population of vampires as it is,” A third GM told ESPN. “Add in the travel and it’s more so. We all want better solutions to this.”
Hopefully, the NBA is able to find a solution, as Whiteside explains that sleep deprivation “could be the difference between you having a career game or playing terrible.” And if they do find an answer, they better let new parents know as well because nothing is worse than having to go to work on three hours of sleep, knowing that you won’t be getting anymore sleep for at least a year.