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Make the most of nap time

26 April 2018

Sleep is all too often overlooked, and yet it's a crucial contributing factor to our overall health and wellbeing. We catch up with leading sport sleep coach and author of Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps.. and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind Nick Littlehales and talk top tips on how to get the best out of your sleep routine and habits. 

I knew sleep was important like most, but how and why we just take it for granted fascinated me 

- Nick Littlehales, sleep coach

Nick Littlehales

Q: Nick, you're known for being the leading sleep coach to some of the biggest names in sport, how have you developed such a great knowledge of sleep?

A: I was made international director of a bed manufacturing company and quickly became a founding member of the UK Sleep Council. I have studied, watched and listened to everything relating to sleep across the globe. My book, Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps... and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind is packed with great tips on how to improve your sleeping habits, and in turn your health and well being.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the biggest myth surrounding sleep?

A: That you need to sleep just in long blocks at night, it's not the case.

In Nick's book he discusses various factors which should be considered when looking to improve the quality of sleep. These include, but are not limited to, the position in which you sleep, the temperature and darkness of the room you sleep in and minimisation of technology and standby lights in the room. More on this below. 

Q: Your book is a bestseller and makes for an interesting read. How do you normally describe your book to potential readers?

A: It's an easy and quick read that could revolutionise your life with practical and achievable steps. 

Nick's book is split into helpful chapters, with a one page summary of helpful steps to follow at the end of each section.

Q: What would be your top tips on improving sleep?

1. I recommend you look into the polyphasic sleep/wake cycle. This means that sleeping more than once within a 24-hour period may be more beneficial to you than sleeping just once in a long block of 8 hours. 

2. I would also become aware of your natural body clock, often referred to as circadian rhythm, and start to take note of when your body is naturally alert and wants to rest. This will help improve your sleep quality.

3. Before you buy a mattress do the mattress check-up. This is where, lying on your non-dominant side, you adjust into the foetal position. Have a friend or your mobile phone handy so that you have a gauge of the distance in-between the side of your head and the surface of the mattress. Basically, if the gap is 6 centimetres or more then the mattress is too firm. Likewise, if your hip is dropping into the mattress and your head is being raised up by the mattress then this means it's too soft. The correct mattress should easily accept your body shape and weight, distributing your weight evenly and giving you a straight postural line.

4. Use hypoallergenic and breathable bedding, whether you have allergies or not, to keep out potential impediments to sleep.

5. Buy as big as you can. A super king size mattress is the minimum size that a couple should contemplate buying (space permitting). A double bed is a bed for one person.

6. Don't buy blind. Engage with a salesperson's knowledge to help define what is available but also read up on the subject of sleep a little bit, before making the final choice.

7. Make your bedroom, or the room where you sleep, a cooler, but not cold, environment compared to the rest of your home. The optimal temperature is sixteen to eighteen degrees. If this is just too cold for you then find a temperature that works for you.

8. Black out your room so that external light does not interfere with your sleep. 

9. If possible keep decor neutral and keep it clean , avoiding anything that is likely to stimulate your mind such as bright pictures or books that you have a strong personal connection with. These will just encourage your mind to be active, when ideally you want your mind to be calm and restful for sleeping.

10. Control technology levels in the room. Make sure any standby lights are off during your sleep time and that your phone is either out of the room or at least out of sight. The less there is to disturb your sleep, the better.

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