Baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani's ability to both outhit and outpitch most of his MLB peers rests on a daily activity some take for granted: getting quality sleep.
And while his stellar performances are setting new standards for MLB stars, how he stays ahead of the game is instructive for anyone trying to cope in a busy modern society.
"Sleep is my top priority," said the Los Angeles Angels star, who recently wrapped up another historic season that came despite very little team success.
The first MLB player in the World Series era to bat enough times and pitch enough innings to qualify for both a batting and ERA title, Ohtani often says, "Good sleep leads to a good recovery."
Getting ample sleep is a big challenge in the majors, especially for Japanese players from leagues in which teams rarely have to travel more than two hours between game locations that are all within a single time zone.
In 2022, Ohtani's Los Angeles Angels traveled some 70,000 kilometers, the third most among MLB's 30 clubs.
In the vast United States, where there is a maximum three-hour time difference, flights for major leaguers of longer than three hours one way are commonplace.
In contrast, Nippon Professional Baseball's longest regular flight time is about 2 hours, 30 minutes, between Sapporo, where the Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani's former team, are based, and Fukuoka.
Teams in Japan also customarily have Mondays off, giving each week a rhythm MLB's more compact schedule cannot match.
Although modern schedules have been made more player-friendly, MLB players sometimes must travel after a night game, arrive in the next city the following morning, and play a day game in the early afternoon.
Former Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki was famous for taking extra steps to get the sleep he needed during his long playing career, but Ohtani may be raising the slumber bar to new heights.
Whether on planes, team buses or in the clubhouse before and after practice, how players manage to fit extra sleep into their grueling schedules can impact performances.
Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani's ever-present interpreter, attests to his efforts to get enough shuteye -- including many days he will sleep a total of 10 hours or more in one day.
"He does whatever he can to get as much sleep as possible," Mizuhara said.
Quality sleep is paramount. Bedding maker Nishikawa Co., which has had an endorsement deal with Ohtani since he was in Japan, stuffs twice as much material than usual into his custom-made pillows.
The broad-shouldered slugging pitcher needs pillows that will retain their height when he rolls over in his sleep.
"His pillows are really stuffed to the gills," said Yuna Mori, a public relations officer at Nishikawa. "I was surprised to see how high his pillow needs to be because of his shoulders."
Ohtani will include naps into his training regimen as part of his carefully managed practice schedule.
"Having a power nap is effective in relieving fatigue and improving productivity," Mori said.
While advances in information and communications technology have undoubtedly made life more convenient, modern people who find themselves unable to switch off from work might benefit from following Ohtani's lead, she said.