The A to Z of good sleep
DAVID Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and Britain’s Olympic cyclists all rely on his advice about how to achieve their best performance in the bedroom.
However, when Nick Littlehales gets into the inner sanctum of the sports stars, he’s not in search of intimacy.
He’s trying to give them a good night’s sleep. And one of the first things he advises athletes who date models and pop stars is – sleep alone if you want to deliver your best performance in a big game.
The man who used to sell beds for a living has become a self- taught sleep expert who scoffs at urban myths about the sleep- inducing properties of warm milk, ocean sounds and essential oils.
Sleep is a much more scientific process for Mr Littlehales who says the temperature of your room should be 16C, you shouldn’t use a pillow, and if you miss your normal bedtime you should wait 90 minutes before attempting sleep.
The sleep coach to the sporting greats is in Australia to promote the nasal strip Breathe Right that claims to open nostrils wider allowing you to breathe better when you have a cold.
He says we take sleep for granted, we’re never taught how to do it and modern life and electronic devices have so completely disrupted our natural sleep rhythms we’re no longer getting enough sleep to maximise mental and physical recovery.
“The side effects of poor sleep can affect reaction times and decision making. You need to recover so you are physically and mentally alert,” he says.
He says there are seven secrets to getting better sleep, revolving around allowing light, or the lack of it, to trigger natural sleeping and waking rhythms and being aware whether we perform better morning or afternoon and compensating when we need to be at our best. He also says sleep is divided into blocks of 90 minutes each, so instead of aiming for eight hours we should try for five cycles of 90 minutes, or 7 ½ hours. If you miss a cycle, catch a nap next day between 1- 3pm or 5- 7pm.
Regular sleep and waking times are important and the right mattress is a must, as is keeping your bedroom between 16- 18C. To get the best sleep, don’t share a bed.
Mr Littlehales’ advice has seen Manchester United and other football clubs install sleep pods at their training grounds so players can nap between training sessions.
He devised portable sleep packs containing mattresses, duvets and other equipment that Britain’s cycling team took to the Olympic village in 2012 so they could replicate the same conditions they had at home.
The last thing we should focus on is a good night’s sleep he says. “What you are looking at is a good year’s sleep, not a good night’s sleep,” he says.
SNOOZE EXPERT: Nick Littlehales focuses on what helps us sleep better.