The NHL started its season. If you follow hockey, you know that it’s one of the most challenging and grueling sports to play. Night after night, it’s lots of checking, slamming into the boards, falling onto hard ice and a gonzo pace that never lets up for the entire game. To paraphrase the old Ginger Rogers line, hockey players do everything baseball players do, but with full contact and on skates.
One can only imagine the effect on the body, even for young healthy guys. Combine it with a vigorous road schedule, and that kind of pounding would create a strong need for sleep. Over the summer, Reverie gave Steven Oleksy, a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of our Dream Supreme Sleep Systems. Oleksy, who runs a competitive hockey league over the summer, has been sleeping on it ever since.
How has his journey to great sleep been going?
Frankly, Oleksy’s journey has been short. Upon trying our bed in at our showroom outside of Detroit, he was impressed. “I’d never been on a sleep system before. I could feel immediately that it was a custom bed,” says Oleksy. And then, when his bed was delivered at home? “The very first night, I noticed a huge change in my sleeping patterns. I didn’t set an alarm clock and hopped right out of bed at 7:30am, ready to go. My legs felt great!” (Oleksy says it so enthusiastically, the exclamation point had to be added for honesty.)
The very next day, he told a friend the bed “was life changing.” Within the first few days, he noticed other things, too. He began falling asleep fast and sleeping soundly instead of restlessly. “I didn’t even dream,” he says. He also doesn’t wake up groggy any more, rendering his snooze button irrelevant. Oleksy used to suffer from sore throats in the morning. He thought the elevation of the Zero Gravity position, which he sleeps in and loves, helped with better drainage. (Another possibility might be our all-natural latex hypoallergenic mattress; it repels dust mites and bacteria, which thrive in other kinds of mattresses.)
A job where sleep is crucial
Great sleep is important to any athlete, but especially to a hockey player. On game days, their schedule involves a busy morning with breakfast at the rink, reviewing video, a short skate and stretching. All this happens before noon. Then most players head back home or to the hotel to nap for 2-3 hours in preparation for the evening’s game. Then it’s back to the rink in the late afternoon to work out, stretch some more and talk strategy. The game follows, with dinner afterward along with a debrief. And then it’s back to the hotel, usually around midnight. A long day, with sleep sandwiched in the middle and also capping off the day. It’s that important to performance.
One of the biggest sleep challenges a hockey player faces is after the game. “It’s a super physical and intense game,” Oleksy says. “It’s hard to wind down. And often, it’s even harder at home, when I have other people and responsibilities to take care of.” He finds the massage feature and the soft light of the under-bed nightlight are little luxuries that help him fall asleep.
Oleksy says “what sets you apart at every level of the game is how quickly you can recover.” And he thinks his Reverie bed really does help. “Those little aches and pains? They don’t bother me much or at all anymore.” Sleeping better maximizes his workouts, improves his mindset and minimizes the effects of constant travel.
A measurable difference
Every year, hockey players take assessment tests for power, endurance, etc. This year, Oleksy had his highest scores ever across the board, which he attributes in part to sleeping better. He is also very fastidious about taking care of himself. He eats healthfully and never drinks alcohol, with one exception … if it’s from the Stanley Cup. “It’s my job to stay in shape,” he says seriously. “I’ve noticed that when I don’t sleep properly or am up late, I tend to make bad decisions, especially eating worse.”
Lately Oleksy has been loving our new Nightstand app. “It’s great,” he says. “It has so many capabilities.” He’s now programming his own sleep routines, with various massage settings and positions of the bed set to run automatically.
He thinks anyone could benefit from the bed, primarily because everybody needs great sleep. “They’ll wake up, ready to go.” And he thinks it would be great for anybody who suffers from back or shoulder pain. Of course, we love that he’s also been talking up the bed to his teammates, telling them, “If there’s one investment to make, this bed is worth every penny.”
About life as a Stanley Cup champion
A genuine and humble guy, Oleksy says his philosophy of the game is that he wants “to be the hardest working guy out there.” He is grateful to have achieved every hockey player’s dream by having been on a team that won the Stanley Cup. And he’s trying hard to cherish every moment of being a champion. “Nobody can take that away from me.” Rather than be annoyed, he’s grateful to the fans who say “hi” and ask for autographs.
Asked about the Penguins’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champions this year, he shows he’s learned a bit about the media and interviews, however. He modestly declines to make any prediction. “It’s always hard to tell,” he says, nonchalantly. “We should be competitive.”
Got it. Continue to sleep well, Steven, and good luck. Your friends at Reverie will be rooting for you.