The Globe and Mail has an article about how Canadian hockey and American football teams, like the San Francisco Giants, have turned to sleep experts to help their athletes better cope with the challenges of travel schedules, jet lag, and so on.

“Society is learning this, too, how important sleep is and how dangerous sleep deprivation is,” says Sam Ramsden, the director of player health and performance for the Seattle Seahawks. “We’re teaching our players: Sleep is a weapon.”

North American culture has long made a hero out of the surgeon, the investment banker, the politician who plows through life on far less sleep than the prescribed eight hours dictated by human bodies. Science – spanning studies from Harvard University to the work of Fatigue Science – clearly shows this is foolish, and that significant fatigue is the equivalent of being drunk on alcohol.

Athletes, whose performance is underpinned by bodies alert and at their prime, have among the most challenging work schedules of anyone. Games occur often at night, and in general happen at different times of day, in different cities, across far-flung time zones.

There’s a lot of time spent in unfamiliar hotel beds and generally requiring sleep when you can get it, such as afternoon naps before a game in the evening, standard in sports such as hockey and basketball…. [But a] major cultural shift in thinking is under way, one that began in the arena of sports and has begun to percolate more widely.

The fact that there are companies focused just on this is a small but significant data-point in our acceptance of the idea that, at the very least, sleep deprivation is not the great signs of virtue that it once was, but is nudging close to drunk driving.