The most underrated of the four pillars. Some see sleep as an inconvenience and a badge of honour to not sleep. We all know the people who say ‘ ah I only need a few hours’ ‘sleep is for losers’……..
Well this is complete and utter rubbish ‘Sleep is for Winners!’
and is absolutely essential for Wellness / Health / Performance
So how much sleep do we need 7/8/9 hrs? As with all four pillars there is no one size fits all and young children need far more than older people.
There is a great little book - Sleep by Nick Littlehales who is a sleep coach ( a job he invented himself!) for Premiership football clubs, businesses, cyclists and Olympic athletes among others.
He says that we Sleep in 90 min cycles and instead of driving yourself mad trying to get 8/9 hours focus on getting 35 X 90 min cycles per week.
A huge problem for people is that they find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you have not fallen asleep after 20-30 mins ( if you follow the below tips this shouldn’t happen) then the advice is to get up and go to a different room, Do not turn on bright lights or any technology. Read something until you begin to feel tired and go back to bed then.
Nick also covers the Circadian Rhythm which is an inbuilt ‘clock’ that regulates our sleep / wake patterns.
If you are not getting your 35 X 90 mins a nap for 20-30 mins between 1-3pm 5-7pm can be a great benefit. Find somewhere quiet and set an alarm if you do go longer you might get into too deep a sleep and wake up groggy
Nick also explains the difference between AMer (morning larks) and PMer (night owls) it is good to find out which one you are.
Tips for better Sleep
Bedroom MUST be Tech Free Zone
Bedroom needs to be cool,dark make it a cave!
Set your alarm at the same time EVERY day
Count back from Alarm time in 90 min blocks
Wind down an hour before bed - to aid the release of the sleep hormone Melatonin
Try avoid vigorous exercise late at night
Avoid caffeine - tea, coffee, chocolate
DO NOT stress over your sleep or lack of it
Here are some info-graphs from the brilliant YLM Sports Science