There’s a big article on Tom Brady’s dedication to diet and fitness by Greg Bishop in the new Sports Illustrated.
The main takeaway from the article: Brady plans every detail of his life so he can play football as long as possible, and he’ll do anything he can to get an edge.
He diets all year round, takes scheduled naps in the offseason, never misses a workout, eats what his teammates call “birdseed,” and does cognitive exercises to keep his brain sharp.
He also goes to bed extremely early. Like, 9 p.m.
“Take his sleep patterns. Brady struggles to unwind after games and practices. He’s still processing, thinking about what’s next. So they added cognitive exercises at night to destimulate his brain, allowing him to get to sleep by 9 p.m. and wake up without an alarm.”
Brady told Bishop about the brain exercises, “The body is a whole system and that includes the brain. I’m lucky I haven’t had many concussions — maybe one I can remember. I’m training for if that happens. I’m building resiliency and staying sharp. I feel like that’s really where my edge is.”
All of the research suggests that sleep is incredibly important to athletes. A 2011 Stanford study found that basketball players shot 9% better from the free throw line and ran significantly faster when they got a full-night’s sleep.
Brady is whatever the polar opposite of nocturnal is. In the story, ex-teammate Rodney Harrison tells an anecdote about showing up to the gym at 6 a.m. and having Brady tell him, “Good afternoon.”
In an interview with WEEI last month, Brady explained why he goes to sleep so early:
I do go to bed very early because I’m up very early. I think that the decisions that I make always center around performance enhancement, if that makes sense. So whether that’s what I eat or what decisions I make or whether I drink or don’t drink, it’s always football-centric. I want to be the best I can be every day. I want to be the best I can be every week. I want to be the best I can be for my teammates. I love the game and I want to do it for a long time. But I also know that if I want to do it for a long time, I have to do things differently than the way guys have always done it.
He’s doing everything he can to prolong his career, and it’s helping him thrive at an age when players typically decline.