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Head games: How Kirk Cousins uses brain training to get an edge

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Situated somewhere at 30,000 feet in the air at the beginning of October, Dr. Tim Royer was reading an electroencephalogram (EEG) test of Cousins’ brain activity that the quarterback had taken the night before. During the NFL season, Cousins runs up to three or four sessions of medical-grade EEG testing per week as part of his brain training regimen. A picture of what Cousins’ brain is doing at the beginning and end of each session is sent via text to Royer.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Royer, a neuropsychologist, has been working with Cousins since the quarterback’s final year at Michigan State in 2011. Over the past eight years, Royer has helped Cousins set goals and optimize his performance through measuring what his nervous, respiratory and endocrine systems are doing at a given moment. The equipment used to take the EEG (Neuropeak Pro provides its clients with lightweight mobile devices to conduct the testing themselves from anywhere — all it takes is connecting a couple of wired electrodes to the head) provides Cousins with a massive dashboard for everything in his body. It tells him what his heart is doing, what the surface of his skin is reacting to and any other physiological functions to determine his baselines for when he’s stressed, focused, etc.4

On this day at the beginning of Week 6, Cousins’ EEG was all over the place. He had just gotten home from beating the Philadelphia Eagles and his sleep and focus were off. By Thursday, back on his routine, the EEG was looking perfect.

“It’s like any muscle group,” Royer said. “It has to recover. During that time, we’re able to see what the neurological recovery is.”

The common denominator of any type of recovery is rest, most critically sleep. Making sure Cousins is getting the right kind of sleep is something Royer bases on the QB’s sleep architecture, which is a blueprint that lets the doctor see what’s happening from moment to moment in the sleep cycle.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

The data is tracked through a polysomnograph, which measures brain waves while one is sleeping. There are four main components Royer looks to measure: how many times the brain awakens at night, how long it takes for the brain to wind down so Cousins can go to sleep (the ideal range is between 10 and 17 minutes once he lies down), how much deep sleep he’s getting (what Royer calls the “holy grail of sports” because this is when hormones are made) and the QB’s rapid eye moment (if Cousins’ REM is off, Royer says, he’s wasting time in the film room because what he’s processing is not getting stored).

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