Kobe Bryant Wound up Regretting the Astonishing Lack of Sleep He Got Throughout His Career: ‘Why Am I Playing Like Crap?’

Kobe Bryant‘s famous “Mamba Mentality” is a mindset built around putting in the work necessary to become the best. For Kobe, that meant finishing his workouts before other players would even wake up.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend got a notoriously low amount of sleep throughout the majority of his career. But ultimately, he wished he could’ve done things differently.

Kobe Bryant rarely slept

The Black Mamba was on a constant quest to become the best player in the world. So he wasn’t going to let things like sleep get in the way of accomplishing that goal.

Bryant admitted to only getting three to four hours of sleep every night. By 4:30 a.m., the alarm was off and it was time for basketball. At first, Kobe brushed off any notions he wasn’t getting enough shut-eye.

“I don’t need too many hours of sleep, man,” Bryant told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN in 2006. “I can go off three, four hours. … I can operate, man.”

Once he was awake, Kobe would work out, shoot in the gym, and do anything else to better himself for his job. But one benefit he told Smith about was how once he was done around 12 or 12:30, he would have the rest of the day to spend time with his family.

Kobe wishes he got more sleep

In January 2020, Thrive Global put out a video explaining the importance of sleep. For the short video, they enlisted the help of Bryant, the last person you’d expect to be championing for more rest. But KB wound up speaking about how his habits were hardly something to emulate.

“My sleep habits were horrendous, to say the least,” Bryant explained. “I’ve always had a hard time sleeping. I couldn’t figure out how to shut my brain off.”

Kobe then shared the moment he realized his sleep pattern was unsustainable. Naturally, it happened on the basketball court.

“What made the lightbulb come on was when I went out there and played the game and played like crap. And I was like, ‘Why am I playing like crap?’ Because I’ve been practicing these same moves over and over and over. But yet, I couldn’t execute them properly. I was feeling sluggish, I was feeling lethargic, and I knew it wasn’t because of my training because I had trained obsessively. Maybe the fact [I was] sleeping two, three hours a night had something with the fact [I was] playing like crap.”

Kobe Bryant

After Kobe stressed getting more sleep since he was “not 21 anymore,” he also suggested beginning each day with five minutes of meditation. It’s definitely an idea his former coach Phil Jackson would support.

Kobe Bryant’s career was legendary, even with little sleep


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As Kobe later looked back and realized how beneficial getting a little extra rest every night was, it’s hard to argue with the results. Throughout his 20-year career, Bryant’s unparalleled dedication to his craft made him one of the greatest players of all time.

In 20 seasons with the Purple and Gold, Bryant was an All-Star in 18 of them. He was selected to an All-NBA team 15 times and an All-Defensive team 12 times. Kobe was also a two-time scoring champion and league MVP in 2007-08. But his success was defined by winning, as the Black Mamba led LA to five titles while earning Finals MVP for two of them.

One can’t help but wonder if an extra 30 minutes a night could have made Kobe even better, particularly in his older years. But there’s not a lot of room for improvement, a testament to his talent and work ethic.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.