Pimp your sleep Stop looking at your shuteye as a chance to dream of Kelly Brook in a bikini and start viewing it as the most powerful recovery tool you’ll ever own. If Kelly comes along for the ride, it's an added bonus.
Sometimes we fight it, peering at the TV through one eye trying to catch the end of that film. At other times we head to bed early to try and get an extra hour or two before a big race day. Both approaches are wrong. Sleep is the weapon you’re probably not using properly when it comes to letting your body repair and your mind reset. MR asked sleep guru Nick Littlehales (www.sportsleepcoach.com
) to tell us where we’re going wrong.
Why is sleep so important?
“It’s when you process foods, fluids and information as well as allowing your body to rehabilitate, rejuvenate and repair. Going to sleep is not just about recovering from your day, it’s a far more deep and meaningful process.”
How much sleep is enough?
Stop thinking about it like that, says Littlehales: “Sleep is measured around 90 minute cycles. In that period your body will have the chance to get the various different stages of sleep important to recovery. Light sleep will provide some level of recovery to allow you to get on with the next day. Then there are the stages of deep sleep that are all about rejuvenation, repair and rehabilitation, those are worth going to sleep for. You can achieve those stages in a 90-minute cycle. Work out how many cycles you’re getting when you sleep.
Do I need to sleep in a certain position to help recovery?
Yes. But it depends what your dominant side is. “Don’t’ adopt a position which will aggravate your legs. Your joints need to be able to recover, so if you are right side dominant, you should sleep in a foetal position on your left side so not to aggravate the joints and muscles that do more of the work. Sleeping on your dominant side hinder recovery and increases the opportunity for injury and also for injury time recovery.”
Does my diet affect my sleep quality?
“One of the big disturbances for sleep is overheating, which apart form a room being too warm or duvet to heavy, in many cases is caused by your body still processing food. It keeps the brain active. A lot of people will wake up use toilet or take water to bed, all these things disturb sleep pattern and in that 90 min cycle it will stop you getting the deep sleep which so beneficial.”
What else affects my sleep?
Look at your mattress –does it mould to your body shape? Look at your duvet, most people have duvets that are far too thick these days. Also look at darkness. A light therapy tool would help wake you naturally in the dark mornings and help start creating the right hormones in your body.