A Pro Football Player Shares His Winning Sleep Tips
Cyril Grayson, a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knows the importance of getting a good night's sleep. After all, countless studies show sleep is key for improving athletic performance and aiding in muscle recovery. Grayson's good sleep habits have certainly paid off: In February 2021, he won his first Super Bowl championship.
What does Grayson do to ensure he gets adequate rest while balancing an intense workout regimen, traveling across the country to compete, and taking care of his adorable 1-year-old son? As the new football season kicks into high gear, we had the chance to chat with Grayson to find out.
Grayson, a wide receiver, says sleep plays a big role in his athletic performance.
Q: How does sleep affect your athletic performance?
A: I'm big on sleep. If I don't get my sleep, I'm not in a good mood—and if I'm not in a good mood, then that translates to my athletic performance. I try to make sure I get a lot of sleep, especially for recovery. I take a high volume of reps, so sleep and naps play a big role in recovering my body for the next day and week to come.
Q: How much sleep do you aim for each night?
A: I try to get as much as possible. I'm at least in bed—but not necessarily asleep—by 9 p.m. Even if I'm not asleep, I'm resting, so I feel like I'm recovering. Most of the time I'm asleep before 10 p.m.
Q: What does your nighttime routine consist of?
A: It depends on the day. I usually get off work around 4 or 5 p.m. and then will get bodywork done—massage or active stretching. Then, I go home and roll out, stretch some more, take an Epsom salt bath, hop into my NormaTec boots, which are like recovery sleeves for my legs, and talk to my girlfriend and son back home until it's time to go to sleep.
"I try to make sure I get a lot of sleep, especially for recovery. I take a high volume of reps, so sleep and naps play a big role in recovering my body for the next day and week to come."
Q: You recently got a Saatva Classic innerspring mattress for your new home in Texas. What else do you keep in your bedroom?
A: Right now, I haven't been at home—I was there for one day. When I was there, it was just my bed and my dog. Usually, though, as long as I have my nightstand right there and I have an air purifier, I'm good. I need my bedroom to smell good, so I like to use the Bath & Body Works Wallflowers. I also sleep all the way underneath the covers with the fan on full blast and the A/C down to 67 degrees.
Q: Has becoming a dad changed your sleep habits at all?
A: Not for me, which is bad because I want to help! But I just don't hear him when he wakes up. Lately, he's been sleeping with us in the bed because we're in transition from apartment to house. He sleeps right between us—but when he wakes up and cries, I don't hear him.
I'll always get an earful—"you don't wake up?" And I'm like, "I promise, if you just tap me and tell me to go get him, I can go and get him." But I still sleep perfectly. I'm traveling now, but from what I'm hearing, he's been sleeping longer at night and staying asleep longer in the morning too. He doesn't wake up as much anymore.
On a typical workday, Grayson wakes up at 5:45 a.m. before heading to practice.
Q: What does a typical workday look like for you right now?
A: I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. and give myself 30 minutes to leave the house. I leave around 6:15 a.m. and get to the building, stop at the training room, and drop my bag off. I go to the dining hall and grab some breakfast. It's the same every day—grits, eggs, turkey sausage or turkey bacon, and cheese. I'll drink orange juice and coffee with breakfast.
After that, I go through some prehab and rehab exercises, and then we start meetings. We have special team meetings, as well as offensive and defensive meetings. Then, we go straight to practice, followed by lunch and post-practice meetings. After post-practice meetings, we're done for the day.
Depending on the day, I might do some recovery exercises, and then I go home. If I have a show I'm watching, I might watch that—but I haven't gotten into anything this season so I just chill when I get home.
Q: You have to travel a lot for games. How do you prevent jet lag from messing with your sleep and impacting you on the field?
A: I bring melatonin with me, but it's rough sometimes. When it comes to hotels, there are some where you can easily get a good night's sleep, while there are others where it's harder to fall asleep.
Q: Do you bring anything with you to make a hotel room feel more like home?
A: I always travel with a Wallflower. I've been using the Flannel and Mahogany Teakwood scents the most consistently. I also have an air purifier and humidifier with me. And I have a custom 3D photo of my son and me, which I got for Father's Day, that I bring with me as well.
For more insight into the sleep routines of elite athletes, check out our interview with a pro sports trainer.
Photo credit (top): Getty Images/Will Vragovic/Stringer