The A to Z of good sleep

Townsville Bulletin - - CLASSIFIEDS - SUE DUNLEVY

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.

Pic­ture: SAM RUTTYN

SNOOZE EX­PERT: Nick Lit­tle­hales fo­cuses on what helps us sleep bet­ter.

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