I don’t think there is room for debate– professional athletes have some of the most intense, disciplined and rigorous routines ever. What we usually think is: strict diets, intense coaching, therapeutic massage and nearly impossible exercise schedules.
Believe it or not – some of the most elite and highest performing athletes also have a ‘Sleep Coach’. In this post, I’m going to introduce you to Nick Littlehales – a man who works behind the scenes to make sure some of the most elite athletes are well-rested, rejuvenated and ready to dominate their day.
Nick has given some invaluable advice, and considering his impressive resume (including acting as Cristiano Ronaldo’s sleep coach) – you are definitely going to want to consider what he has to say about sleep.
Here are some tidbits of wisdom from Nick Littlehales.
Mom was right: take the time to clean those sheets! Your body will thank you in the long run. Dust, pet dander, pollen and mold can all build up and accumulate on your sheets and pillowcases.
It may not be immediately obvious or intuitive to have a frequent cleaning schedule for your sheets, but you should! You can’t see these pesky environmental irritants, but they unfortunately can, and will build up if you aren’t cleaning them regularly.
Clean sheets = deep sleep.
Disconnect Before Sleep
Littlehales recommends disconnecting from screens and overstimulating technology 90 minutes before sleep. Electronic devices are rampant in today’s world.
These devices emit a blue hue of light, which has been shown to be disruptive on our circadian rhythms. These blue lights can interfere with our body’s natural ability to produce an essential hormone, melatonin – which in turn disrupts our ability to sleep well.
Also, there is no better way to ensure a sleepless night, than to be bombarded with overstimulation, and to rev up the mind before bedtime. Put your phone on silent and enjoy a soothing evening ritual, such as a warm bath and a good book instead.
Temperature is Crucial
Keep it cool in the bedroom. You’ll get in to the knack of finding that sweet spot. Prioritize your own comfort, but remember to keep it cool.
Heat is not conducive to a deep sleep – as the hormone Melatonin is produced more optimally in a cool environment. Ideally – keep it below 70 degrees in the bedroom.
Anything above 70 degrees has been shown to potentially stunt the production of melatonin.
Keep Your Room as Dark as Possible
Again, melatonin comes into play here. A dark room signals to the brain to release more melatonin, thus resulting in better sleep.
Any environmental lights can dampen your body’s natural ability to fall into a natural sleep cycle. Even if your sleeping space gets some light, it is an easy fix. Littlehales suggests Black-Out curtains, but a nice comfy eye-mask will also do the trick.
Do your body a favor and reduce light as much as possible for an optimal night’s sleep.
Sleep is crucial. Anything we can do to facilitate a deep and restful night’s sleep will pay off in the long run. In the same way that going to the gym once, won’t give immediate results – be patient in implementing these tips.
It may take some experimentation and trial and error – but I hope these tips ultimately help you in the same way they have helped me. Perhaps a few minor tweaks in your current routine will do the trick.
Maybe adopting just one of these strategies is exactly what your body has been needing for an optimal night's rest. Sweet Dreams!