Room Sharing: Does Teamwork Make the Dream Work?

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Last Modified 19 December 2022   First Added 19 April 2021

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Competing abroad often means sharing a room with teammates, so GB athletes must become experts at figuring out who to bunk up with. Matching people with similar sleep patterns and preferences can be a challenge but find the right roomie and everything should work like a dream. We spoke to Laura and Maddie about what makes a good roommate.

Room sharing

While at some sporting events athletes may have the option to upgrade to a private room, this isn’t the case for the Olympic Games, where everyone must share. As part of Team GB’s hockey squad, Maddie explains the teamwork involved:

We definitely talk about the importance of sleep and how people vary. Some people have to get up in the night to use the toilet, some sleep through, and some take a while to get to sleep. So, it’s really important as a group that we understand each other’s sleep patterns and regimes, particularly for sharing a room.

Despite travelling and being part of a team, when it comes to sleep Laura says everyone’s individual sleep routines and habits need to be taken into account.

We work with individuals but within the context of the team for events like the Olympics, where athletes have to share a bedroom, it’s all about careful matching.

Clearly, if someone gets on your last nerve, you’re not going to enjoy sharing a room with them, even if your sleep patterns are a good fit. Therefore, the team must think about matching personalities that work well together, as well as all-important bedtime routines.

Finding a roommate

Anyone who has ever shared a room can appreciate what a minefield it can be having someone else in your sleeping space – from being kept awake by a snorer to living with your roommate’s dirty clothes strewn across the floor. And, just like the rest of us, while some athletes will happily sleep anywhere, for others the wrong roommate could be a deal-breaker. Laura says:

Some people are easy sleepers and not bothered but others are highly sensitive… If athletes find someone who it works with, they tend to stick with them.

This is true for Maddie, who has one particular teammate she usually pairs up with. But there’ll still be times when she’s training with other people and her usual roommate might not be around. So, athletes need to have some flexibility when it comes to sharing a room.

Compromise and commitment

Maddie believes that a strong team culture is key to success both on and off the pitch, and this includes a team approach to sleep.

We’ve all built up so much trust and understanding of one another before going into a tournament, whoever I room with, I will already know really well.

Laura also points out that the Olympics are “the biggest show on earth” and the athletes understand that everyone wants to perform at their best, so will treat one another with respect.

What’s more, they all appreciate the power of sleep. “So much top sport is about mental strength,” says Laura.

If you’re tired and sleepy, the ability to take on and retain information is compromised. In technical sports like hockey, that ability, along with sharp decision making, is vital to success.

This means that, for Maddie and her teammates, happy and harmonious room shares are all part of working together towards a common goal. Because if everyone has slept well, they’ll all be off to a winning start in the morning.

Unlike Olympic athletes, we can’t all find a new roommate if the person we’re sharing with is keeping us awake at night. But, if you acknowledge the importance of sleep and recognise where your sleeping patterns differ, you can start exploring ways to tackle any issues. This could include having earplugs or an eye mask handy, or reaching a compromise on room temperature.

For more on this topic, check out our Sleep Matters Club article on promoting positive sleep habits as a couple.