First 'Cat Naps' for Wildcats, now sleep assessment studies

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern gave new meaning to the phrase “cat nap” prior to last season’s home game vs. Nebraska. Heck, “Cat Nap” was listed on the team’s game itinerary, with the word “Mandatory” before it. So, the Wildcats all took a nap prior to the 3:30 p.m. ET game.

Odd, no? Well, the week before, the Wildcats came out flat against Boston College in another 3:30 p.m. ET game. The players’ reasoning? It was their usual nap time, of course.

Pat Fitzgerald listened, and that’s how the “Cat Nap” came about.

Northwestern went on to lose the game, 29-28, despite leading by 12 in the fourth quarter. Still, the Wildcats avoided a sluggish start, the point of the mandatory team nap.

Fast forward to today, and Fitzgerald has taken the whole sleeping thing to another level. According to the New York Times, the Wildcats began wearing movement sensor armbands in August, in collaboration with the university’s school of engineering, to track the quantity and quality of sleep each player gets.

[ MORE: NYTimes.com: At Northwestern, ‘caught napping’ can be a positive ]

The armbands are not mandatory, however most players opt to join the sleep assessment to see their sleep patterns and receive information on ways they can get more sounder sleep.

“What they’re doing is taking existing sleep research and translating it into a program designed for their athletes that they hope will improve not only athletic performance, but also a whole bunch of other things,” Northwestern professor Emma Adam told the New York Times. “Sleep has effects on cognition, your attention, your memory, your mood, your metabolism, your appetite — it affects so many different things.”

Whatever works, right? Especially for a 3-0 team that continues to build momentum and confidence every week.

About Brent Yarina BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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