The first seven years of Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan's career were quite impressive. He was named to the Pro Bowl three times, and never had a season where he totaled less than seven and a half sacks.
But about a year and a half ago, Kerrigan wanted to make a change. He wasn't sleeping well, and sought to upgrade his mattress or pillow. That's when he discovered BEDGEAR, a bed fitting company designed to tailor a mattress to meet the needs of every individual.
"During the NFL season, sleep is everything," Kerrigan said. "It helps you recover. It helps you feel good not just the next day, but the day after that, and the day after that [as well]."
BEDGEAR had a personal fitting for the entire Redskins roster last September, but Kerrigan has committed to it more than anyone. Both he and his wife have their own mattress tailored for their needs, since they like to sleep with the temperature slightly different.
"My wife runs a little more cold at night, so she needs it a little more warm," Kerrigan said. "Whereas I run a little hotter at night, so I need a little more cool. It definitely works out to have an advanced mattress like we have that allows us both to sleep comfortably but in the same bed."
It's not only the mattress that has had a lasting effect on Kerrigan. The four-time Pro Bowler has a custom-designed pillow made just for him, one that he travels with wherever he goes.
"I just noticed a lot of the hotels I go to, the pillows are super soft. My head would almost be basically flat with the bed," Kerrigan said. "Having two [pillows] stacked up didn't work, as well. I was like, 'Maybe I need to get another pillow like I have at home and travel with that.'"
He admitted that on the road, it's tough to be able to sleep comfortably. But the pillow has certainly helped him get a good night's rest.
"You definitely notice [a difference] when you're on the road," he said. "I think more than anything, I notice it with the pillow, which is why I travel with my own pillow. At least if I can have my head laying on the same surface, I feel like that will help me. And it has helped me the past year and a half. Ideally, I'd like to travel with a mattress, too, but a pillow is more doable."
Nights before home games, the Redskins all stay in a team hotel closer to the stadium, meaning Kerrigan can't sleep in his custom-fit bed on the eve of any game day. He notices a difference there, too.
"When you're on your mattress at home that you're sleeping on six nights out of the week, it's definitely more refreshing waking up then," Kerrigan said, comparing his bed at home to the hotel bed.
"I've been in the same [hotel] room for [nine] years, they just have to replace the mattress," Kerrigan joked.
Since the first snap he played for the Burgundy and Gold, Kerrigan has been one of the team's most productive players. In 2018, his first season using the custom bed, he tied a career-high with 13 sacks.
While the change has impacted Kerrigan considerably, and for the better, not many of his teammates have joined him on the custom pillow- and bed-fitting wave.
But, Kerrigan saw linebacker Cole Holcomb travel with his own pillow, and wondered whether it was his pillow traveling that was rubbing off on the rookie.
"I don't know if he got that from me or not," Kerrigan said. "In my mind, I took a little pride thinking, 'Hey, maybe he saw me doing that.'"
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One key to performing well on Sundays? For Ryan Kerrigan, it's his mattress originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington