Some 160 resident athlete dorm rooms at the Colorado Springs U.S. Olympic Training Center have been modified--with the help of former NASA scientist Mark Rosekind--to increase the athletes' alertness and reaction time for peak performance. Many of the new dorm elements will be replicated for the American representatives at the Winter Games in Torino, Italy, Feb. 10-26.
"Sleep is so important and so basic that it could make the difference between winning the gold or the silver at the Olympic Games," maintains Rosekind, who was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for his work with pilots and astronauts on combating fatigue. "The proper amount of sleep can boost an athlete's performance as much as 30%."
For medalist hopefuls, the benefit of the redesigned room is real. "It sounds simple, but getting the proper rest really does increase my confidence and abilities on and off the track," notes U.S. speedskater Apolo Ohno. "After sleeping on a twin-sized bed at the training center for seven years, I [love] all the additions to my room."
The rooms offer a blend of technology with the latest in sleep research and the comforts of home. The most important ingredient of the remodel is the replacement of the facility's standard twin beds with a complete bedding system, including a plush-top mattress to reduce...