Sleep Science

Tools to maximise your recovery and performance

Aim for 9 hours of sleep per night

Young adult athletes require this much sleep (on average) to perform optimally

Less than 8 hours = 1.7x injury risk

One study found that athletes who got less than 7 hours of sleep per night were at 1.7x risk of musculoskeletal injury

The more sleep the better your performance

One study found in adult athletes that the more sleep they got over a period of a month, the better their performance was in comparison with those who got less total sleep

Sleep Preparation

Before the bedroom

SLEEP PRESSURE
-This means creating sleepiness/drowsiness so that your body is very much ready to fall asleep
-If you stay awake for 24 hours straight your sleep pressure will be enormous, if you sleep all day and barely go out of the house not spending any energy then your sleep pressure is small
-When sleep pressure is low it is more difficult to get good quality sleep

SLEEP RHYTHM
-Your body craves rhythm in many ways, and sleep is no different
-Keeping the times that you go to sleep and wake up consistent is HUGELY important for getting quality sleep. When you have big variations in this rhythm it can be a big shock for the body can have many negative effects such as lowered energy and immunity
-Whenever possible, try to keep the same bedtime and wake-up times for EVERY day. Even if this isn’t possible to maintain due to games, try to return to your regular rhythm as soon as possible

GAME RHYTHM
-Game rhythm is keeping your body and nervous system in sync with the game schedule, and is very closely linked with your sleep rhythm
-Just like your sleep and wake times, your body appreciates consistency in your routines and you will find it much easier to feel energetic and be hyped up for games if you can be awake, alert and exercising at game time (in the days leading up to the game)
-This means getting some adrenaline going with short mini movement sessions at home (ask your coaches), playing high octane video games (Call of Duty) or doing visualization sessions

SCREEN TIME & SOCIAL MEDIA
-Limit screen time around 90 mins before bed
-This is to remove the blue (& green) light from the screens (iPhone, TVs, computers) which can block the production of melatonin in your body, which helps to make you drowsy and prepare the body for sleep
-When we use social media or gaming technologies we often get very small releases of dopamine in our system (associated with pleasure) or adrenaline (for stress), both of which do not help us to get into a relaxed state before going to bed

CAFFEINE
-Keep your caffeine consumption consistent as well, if you always drink two per day then keep this amount and the times that you drink it the same (except for game day if using it as a supplement)
-Don’t drink caffeinated drinks (coffee/tea) after 5pm in the afternoon, this can have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep or on your ability to fall asleep
-Drinking coffee/caffeine within an hour of waking up in the morning is also not desirable, within this first hour you have spikes in cortisol production (the stress hormone), when drinking caffeine during these spikes it can disrupt this cortisol release/balance, and also make you more susceptible to addiction to caffeine

Sleep pressure

Giving your body the urge to sleep

Sleep rhythm

Sleep-wake times & routine

Screen time & social media

Avoiding these ~90 mins before bed

Caffeine consumption

Be smart with timing & consistency

Sleep Checklist

When going to bed

Make your room DARK

Curtains closed, as dark as possible, no devices on or flashing lights, eye covers & ear plugs are options

Your bedroom is ONLY for sex & sleep

Do not go into your bedroom until you are ready to go to sleep

Set the right temperature

Between 16-19 degrees is recommended. Find what works for you

Bed set-up

Make it comfortable and familiar. Fresh pillows & linen that feels nice on your skin

Meditation or breathwork

Use these tools to relax your body and clear your mind before sleep. Try the Breathwrk app (or ask for some other options - there are many)

TBA

Heel elevated on 45cm bench, touch hips to hand target of therapist, within 90% of unaffected limb

Napping

Use naps or day sleep to catch up on ‘sleep debt’
(when you haven’t gotten enough sleep in the evening, or when your sleep slips out of rhythm)

Use power naps to regain focus or energy levels when feeling flat

Power naps

A power nap could be considered anywhere between 10-30 mins. Typically beyond this you will start to drift into further phases of sleep and may feel groggy or sluggish when waking up. These naps are perfect for quick energy boosts and VERY powerful around game day if you are feeling off.

Power nap challenge

Find a quiet place that is comfortable to relax in. Place a 10 min timer on your phone or watch with an alarm on it. Try to get yourself to sleep within the 10 mins so that the alarm wakes you up. This takes practice but is a very powerful tool to have at your disposal.

Moderate naps

A moderate nap could be considered any duration from 30-60 mins. These are sometimes difficult to wake up from (depending on the individual), but may be useful when trying to catch up on lost sleep. Test this duration for yourself.

Full sleep cycle(s)

A nap of 90 mins or more is considered a full sleep cycle, and will likely go through the multiple phases of sleep. You will wake up feeling groggy after these naps, and it may take you up to a couple of hours to feel 100% alert again. Use these longer sleep cycles only when you have plenty of time to wake up before games. If you are interested in sleep cycles & how athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo use these cycles - read the book 'Sleep - the myth of 8 hours' by Nick Littlehales.

Caffeine naps

If you are a coffee drinker, you can also use caffeine naps as a tool to refresh and recharge yourself. After drinking your coffee, set your alarm to 30 mins and start your nap. The caffeine absorption in the body will hit maximal levels around 30 mins after consumption, so when you rise the caffeine stimulant effect will help you feel energized & recharged.

Travel & sleep

How to manage travel from anywhere in the world to sustain high performance

Get immediately into the timezone where you are LANDING - stay awake the whole day until at least 9pm.
You can even start preparing for this during your travel - by choosing which times to try and stay awake/asleep on your flight.
DO NOT pay any attention to the timezone that you are departing from.
Do some short, low intensity exercise upon arrival in the new timezone. 10-15 mins will suffice. Preferably before your first large meal. Get your body in sync with eating, exercise and caffeine habits as soon as possible. If you do not adhere to this, you can expect to struggle with jet-lag and timezone adaptation for weeks – and your performance will suffer.
Once landed, stay busy the entire day - this will make your body tired and even more ready to sleep in the evening. Try meeting with friends for coffee or meals, get frequent exposure to sunlight, and try swimming to refresh yourself and keep you awake.
If absolutely necessary, you can nap but for ONLY 10 mins maximum. More than 3×10 min naps will have a negative impact on your sleep that night and subsequently your jet-lag recovery. Don’t drink caffeine after 5pm in your new timezone.

Troubleshooting sleep

Having trouble getting to sleep?

Try these solution strategies

Change something in or around your bed(room)
Go to the toilet (even if you don’t feel you need to)
Eat something light
Have something to drink (water, tea, warm milk)
Try to sleep on the floor
Breathing/meditation practice
Yoga or soft tissue release work to relax your body
Change your pillow/linen set up
Play some light music or a podcast
Try tart cherry juice 60 mins before bed
Sleep medications
Should only be used in one-off scenarios or last-ditch efforts
If no other natural solutions have worked for you
Should ALWAYS be used in consult with a doctor first
There is no evidence that medicated sleep is better quality
There is no evidence that medicated sleep helps you perform better
It may also have the opposite effect
Sleep meds will typically make you feel VERY groggy when waking up
Trouble with the quality of your sleep
Do you snore or have airway trouble? Get this checked by a doctor
Recent changes to your sleep routine can have big effects (children, bed change, new spouse)
Don’t go to sleep thirsty, but don’t drink too much water either
One standard cup of water is a sufficient amount before bed
Keep a water bottle beside your bed in case of thirst
Consult a sleep specialist or ask for help from your staff ASAP!
Trouble with waking up
Place your phone on charge in the corner of your bedroom or next door
(So that when the alarm goes off you have to get yourself up out of bed)
Get some brightness into your eyes upon waking (get up and open the blinds to rise with the sun)
Make appointments for yourself (coffee with friends, training sessions, meetings) to force you out of bed