How to Supercharge Your Sleep with Nick Littlehales, Sleep Coach to the World’s Best Athletes
Greetings, superfriends! In our previous episode with Dr. Kirk Parsley, we talked a lot about sleep and it’s absolutely pivotal role in performance. You guys were really good about sending us feedback, saying that you loved the topic, and asking that we give you even more practical tips on how to improve your sleep. In that episode, we learned a ton about WHY sleep was important and a lot less on HOW to actually improve it.
Well, today, we have a really exciting episode for you guys. That’s because we have managed to book the world’s most elite sleep coach, Nick Littlehales… the guy who taught Cristiano Ronaldo himself how to sleep more effectively. Nick travels all over the world with the most elite athletes, making sure that their sleep conditions are absolutely perfect. From choosing hotels to switching out bedding and even designing customized sleep regimens and the appropriate linens for individual athletes, he does it all.
In this episode, we’re going to dive deep – really deep – into how you can actually optimize your sleep from a practical perspective. We’re going to learn how to set up your sleep environment, when it’s best to sleep, which positions are healthier, how much is enough, how to troubleshoot sleep issues, and what factors make the biggest difference. Just to give you guys a fair bit of warning, it’s a rather a long interview, and we do take a little while to warm up and get into the groove of things. We spend probably about 25 or more minutes just talking about how to identify your sleep needs and the type of mattress and pillows…. So yeah, when I say we go deep, I really mean it. Stay the course and listen through to the end, though, because we cover a ton of ground in the second half of the episode, and there are a number of surprising takeaways and bits of homework that could dramatically impact the quality of your life.
If you enjoy this episode, please make sure to send us a tweet to @gosuperhuman and tell us what your favorite part was!
In this episode, we discuss:
- Nick's story of changing his career as a result of a mid-life crisis
- Nick's story of rising to prominence as an elite sleep coach
- Which fitness trackers or sleep tracking tools are actually effective, and why?
- The simple procedure for properly choosing the appropriate mattress, pillow, and more
- What is your “sleep profile?”
- What is the correct and healthiest sleeping position for you?
- Mouth breathing, neck pain, and more
- Soft vs. hard mattresses, memory foam vs. springs, etc.
- How much should you sleep, when, and in what routine?
- Why it's important to sleep in multiples of 90 minutes and wake up at the same time every day
- Why 11pm and 6:30AM are important times for our bodies
- Where does napping fit in, and should you be doing it?
- Curtains, letting in natural light in the morning, and dawn waking simulators
- What temperature should you sleep in, and should you leave the AC on?
- A clever trick to drop your body temperature before bed – and why
- Another clever trick to make your bed more inviting
- Thoughts on hydration, over hydration and drinking water before sleep
- Should you eat before bed, and if so, what?
- Are there any supplements you should take to sleep better?
- How important is exercise for your sleep?
- How do sex and/or sleeping with our partner affect our sleep and our performance?
- Is your bed too small for you and your partner?
- Why sleeping in a separate room might actually improve your relationship
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- The article about Nick in The Guardian
- Slumberland, the company Nick's first career was with
- FitBit an activity trackers that measures your sleep
- The Readiband by Fatigue Science
- The Jawbone Up
- The Zeo Personal Sleep Manager
- Philips hue smart lighting
- F.lux (Free software)
- The Lumie Dawn Simulator
- Microfiber, hypo-allergenic sheets
- Breathe Right strips and SleepRight Breathing Aids
- Nick's website, Sport Sleep Coach (for blog posts, specially designed products, and consultation)
- Use the coupon code BSH10 to get 10% off anything in the store!
Favorite Quotes from GUEST:
Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.
Jonathan Levi: Before we get started, I just want to let you guys know that this episode is brought to you by my best-selling online course Become a Speed Demon: Productivity Tricks To Have More Time. The course is the combination of over a decade of my own experience and research into productivity theory, strategies, tips, and tricks from how to prioritize and structure your life to computer hacks and tips to automate your daily work and even ways to shave time off the basic tasks we all do every day. The course is guaranteed to save you at least three hours a week or your money back. So for a 90% OFF coupon, check it out at jle.vi/productivity. That's http:// jle.vi/productivity.
Greetings, SuperFriends, and welcome to this week's show. If you guys remember, we recently had an episode with Dr. Kirk Parsley, the sleep doc. And he helped us understand the critical role of sleep in mental and physical performance.
You guys were really, really great about sending us feedback and you let us know that you want to know more practical tips. How do you actually improve your sleep? What do you need to look out for what conditions matter? We really appreciate that feedback and so today we've managed to book the world's most elite sleep coach.
This is a guy who's worked with Manchester United and Arsenal. He's even worked with Chris Johno Rinaldo himself on how to sleep more effectively. He's traveling the entire world, coaching these elite athletes and Olympians, and making sure that their sleep conditions are perfect. This means, choosing hotels, switching out the bedding, designing, linens, designing different pillows.
And of course, designing the sleep regimens and making sure that the habits and the sleep hygiene are all there. So there's no one better in the world to help us understand how we can optimize our own sleep. Now, in this episode, we're going to dive deep. Really, really, really deep into how you can actually optimize your sleep from a more practical perspective.
We're going to learn how to set up your sleep environment when it's best to sleep, which positions are healthier, how much is actually enough, how we can troubleshoot our sleep issues, even what factors are making the biggest difference. I just want to give you guys a fair bit of warning here, I completely geeked out.
You guys know that I'm so interested in sleep and I took this opportunity to get into really nitty-gritty details. It's a rather long interview and we do take a little bit of time to warm up, but I want you guys to really listen through and stick through it to the end. We spend 25 minutes or more just talking about how to identify your needs and also how to choose things like a mattress or a pillow.
So when I say we go deep, I really mean it. But stay the course and listen through to the end because as we approach the middle and end of the interview, we're going to cover a ton of ground. We're going to move quickly and we're going to learn so much and take away so many surprising takeaways and tidbits that really can be applied into your daily life. And there's even some great homework that you can do today to figure out if your sleep environment is correct. If it's healthy if it's causing you pain if it's waking you up in the middle of the night. So there's a ton of amazing value here, and I know you guys are going to enjoy it.
If you do enjoy it, please make sure to send us a tweet and let us know what your favorite part was. Our handle on Twitter is @gosuperhuman and with that, I would like to introduce my friend, Mr. Nick Littlehales.
Nick, welcome to the show today. I am very, very, very excited to have you. I'm so glad we managed to book you and I really appreciate your time.
Nick Littlehales: Welcome. Yeah, it's great to be here.
Jonathan Levi: So, I learned about what you're doing. I take a pretty strong interest in sleep and we've had some sleep experts on the show before.
And I learned about what you're doing because I read an article in Forbes, which I imagine as we mentioned a little bit before we started had a little bit of sensationalism saying that you were essentially the man who taught Cristiana Rinaldo, how to sleep. Now you've explained to me, actually, your emphasis is anyone who wants to be an elite athlete and even people who are.
Part-time semi-professional athletes. Tell me a little bit about how someone goes into the path of becoming one of the world's most respected coaches, a sleep coach.
Nick Littlehales: That's very grim Jonathan, but yes, people write a lot of things about me because sleep, as you pointed out is a much bigger subject in today's generation than it ever has been.
But it's not only just about elite sportspeople, it's about, um, the population in general. So because it's very intriguing, people want to write about it. And sometimes you get caught up in the areas with the celebrity people that I work with. But principally, I was always had an interest in sports as a young guy, like everybody is.
I found myself in a completely different arena, which was what's classed as the furniture industry. I was working with a, a very big company. I worked my way through the ranks and became their international sales, marketing director. They had licensees all over the world. They were a big brand for some people listening.
They may have be aware of a company called Slumberland and through those years, I was always involved with the clinical side, the academic side of sleep, always trying to relate the importance back to what Mike, the company I worked for was about sleeping products, mattresses, pillows, surveys, and that sort of side to always make sure that we were building products and communicating as a brand positively to the consumers to encourage them to invest in quality sleep.
And obviously, one place to start would be. The products they're sleeping with. I sort of hit that sort of midlife crisis, I suppose. And just realized that the same thing happened. Every year, every five years, the process that the population takes things for granted sleep. It's not a performance criteria.
We don't really care about it. Although we love it. We know how important it is, but we're quite happy to disregard it and play with the process. Whether we sleep well or not, we still get on with our day and we still play our sports. We still do our events, we still go to work and once somebody comes around to actually investing in sleep they're really haggling over, or I'll just have that mattress. I'll just have that bed. They're more interested in the style of the bed, not the function of the products to help them sleep. So I just got bored and thought sleep must be something that sport takes reasonably seriously. And I wonder what they're doing.
So I, I literally just contacted the local football club to where my UK office was up in Manchester. That happened to be Manchester United. It was for no other reason that they were a big sporting organization, local to me. And I simply wanted to know what they were doing in the area of sleep. Wow. And what I got back was.
We don't do anything. And, but we're intrigued. What do you think we should be doing? And I thought that's weird. So I did engage with the club. In the first instance, they were intrigued to sort of about what happens to the player when they leave the training ground when they leave there, the Cottonwood coloring of the club, what are they doing at home?
Because these long hours asleep, we've never taken any interest in it. So I got involved with one particular player cause they had serious, lower back problems. So this was principally at that point in time in the late nineties, this what's, this got to do with sleep. And all we did is I was able to check that player's products at home.
Just like everybody else. They walked into a shop on the high street with absolutely no knowledge talking to a bad salesman. The bed salesman, sold them some orthopedic titled chiropractic wander mattress that solves your back problems, just like surgeons can't. And he was sleeping on this product. Which has actually sort of made it word by the physio at the time, it was debilitating the problem with his lower back, not rehabilitating during the process of sleep.
So I'm was able to change the products. They saw an insignificant, it didn't solve the back problem. That's not possible, but it reduced the amount of time he was on the physio table. It enabled him to do a little bit of training when he hadn't done before it made him feel a lot more confident about the process.
So physio saw it. What happened from that point was simply hang on. We should start a process. Now in those days, we didn't have sports science, the word recovery was something that hadn't really hit any sort of world of sport in any specific way. And literally, I just got asked to pass on my knowledge to the club, to the players, and to educate everybody and actually since that particular point up until two days ago, when I was coaching a top-flight club in a different sport. The conversation I had then in 98. So the conversation I was having with the same elite group of coaches and doctors and players has not changed one bit. Because at that time, their knowledge of sleep was just like asking anybody on the streets.
Yeah. I go to sleep at night and I wake up in the morning. Okay. Do you know anything else? Do you know anything about circadian rhythms? Do you know anything about crone and such? Do you have a pre-sleep routine? How many hours do you try to do you know what goes on while you're asleep and those long hours, you know how to get the best out of it?
No months, wherever. Okay, let's start from scratch then. And so I think all that's happened over the years, Jonathan is that obviously, I started to, you know, somebody says, Ooh, Is this guy going into this top-flight football club and he's coaching the players. He's talking to the players about sleep.
What's all that about. So I simply got titled by the media Manchester United's sleep coach. He's obviously going into them and talking them into bed and reading them bedtime stories and making sure all those comfort players or happy but in the background. The word started to spread. So a number, but those players were playing in the, uh, the England national football team.
And so they started to influence other members of that team, including the coaches and physios, the coaches and physios became very interested in what they were being told by the players. So just simply by referral. And went from, you know, into the national clubs and because it's so high profile. And I think that the weird thing Jonathan was that because at that time, nobody talks about sleep really in any significance in sport, nevermind life, nobody was investing anything in sleep whatsoever and suddenly the England squad and Manchester United and arsenal.
I've got a sleep coach. Yeah. Where's that come from? Right. So it was almost like a shock. So from that point, you define, because I was being asked to do so that wasn't my job. I was an international sales marketing director. I was the chairman of the UKC council. I'd been studying sleep and working with research projects, but I didn't go to university to do that.
I knew a lot about designing products for people and, and all of that sort of thing, but it wasn't a job in that sense. So I had to define. What I was actually doing for these people. I'm trying to find a way as you can imagine, because it was the world of football, initially. How on earth do you stand in front of a first-team football squad, which is principally, you know, teenagers and young guys.
Who in a conference-style format being asked to listen very carefully to a sleep coach. Right? So you had to sort of, nevermind. The manager goes, you've got to listen to this guy because the manager couldn't actually clearly explain what I did and even the physio or the doctor. Well, obviously we want you to talk to the players, but we're actually not quite sure what you're going to do.
So. Once we've got everything put together. I just started to develop a way of engaging athletes, whether it's as a group or individuals, you obviously learn a hell of lots about what goes on in the background. In sports, which a lot of people don't see. I also had a lot of experience of dealing with individual athletes themselves away from their club in their own environments as just individuals wanting to find ways to make sure that they can always perform at their best.
So all of that experience comes together into what you do and principally today, although we have, you know, all the technology. Has come into our system, we can get sleep apps. We can get measurement devices that bring the whole sleep attention, sleep awareness to everybody in real terms. What I see, and I got asked to do a project even a few days ago, which we've put Fitbits into our workforce to monitor health and everything else and sleep.
And we got some amazing results back in every single way because we treat our workforce as a very serious part of our business as you do, and you should get all of this information back and what was coming back from all of the workforce, because we've alerted this from is that they all want more information about sleep.
So we've got the data, but we don't know what to tell them. Right. Right because the data simply tells you, you had twenty-five percent worth of REM or you had a good night's sleep, or you have 15 minutes of this. It's usually triggered by heart rate or posts. If it's a wearable on your wrist or it's a motion detector if it's by the side of your bed.
Right. And it all translates back into predisposed data. So it's just relating what's going on there back to predispose data. It's not live data. Sure.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. My issue I've tried a lot of the fitness trackers and my issue is always great. I have a problem now what it tells me nothing actionable. Although I do want to ask how many of these fitness trackers are actually worth a damn or these iPhone apps?
Are they actually tracking sleep well? And if so, which ones are the ones you would recommend?
Nick Littlehales: This area is developing very quickly because of the emphasis globally on the sleep health and wellbeing. But what you have to sort of take on board is that it's great, absolutely fantastic. That we've got ways of at least looking at how we're sleeping, being more aware of the sleep stages and things that might change that data.
And that is absolutely fantastic. Some of the, you know, you've got certain products out there and certain applications that are certainly better than others, because there is always that gadget element to every new development. But in principle, If I give you the example from sports, we may put a series of wearables into a group.
We will do it very, very specifically and very controlled. What we're looking for is just simply some benchmarks to guide us. In a particular way. So we'll put them on to the individual athletes. We'll ask them to wear them for a specific time. All the data comes back to us, not them. And we look at that data and then it simply gives us a little bit of a benchmark so that when I go in and culturally athletes and coach all the staff and those techniques start to filter through and we do the test again, it's not that we're going.
Oh, Within crazed or we've improved. We've gone down. What we're really looking for is when we did our final test. Its part of that test is also asking the individual athletes, how do they now perceive the level of mental and physical recovery? How do they perceive their approach to it? Um, what we want out of that, and this is what we get is the little turnaround and just go, I didn't know anything about it.
That in principle, I thought I did, but I obviously didn't, I've now done a series of these things. I know how to cope with each day as it unfolds in front of me nevermind, planning ahead. I feel so much more confident about it. So my perceived value is through the roof.
Jonathan Levi: I see average devices. Do you find to be kind of the most effective?
Nick Littlehales: At the moment, there is so many about, and I tend to sort of keep away from the development unless something really specific comes up, but there are ready bands, which is a wristband watch type product. The data's very good and the processes. So that's being used fairly readily around the welding world in and out of sport.
There's a Fitbit. Yeah, one of the top ones, again, coming off the heart rate and pulse I'd much rather work with that than any motion detectors. So if it's wearable on the wrist, Jawbone Up is another one, then those things can really do it. I think the apps because they're using the accelerometers to measure movement, normally go into somebody's system and then gather dust within, you know, a few weeks.
Because like you say, it doesn't give you anything to do, right. So. There was one product Jonathan that came out, which was extremely exciting, simply because it was a portable version of what you would get in a clinic. And that was taking the brainwave patterns from the frontal lobe on your forehead, straight from the brain.
It was. Yes. Yeah. And that was brilliant because it's taking live data. It's clearly telling us what's happening in your sleep. It wasn't too intrusive because it was a little thing on your forehead. That's always the problem. When you're measuring data. If you put something on your body when you're sleeping and it becomes an intrusive thing, so then it disturbs that whole process, but it was reasonably okay.
The data was brilliant, but, uh, You know, the product disappeared off the market, right. They went under, right. They went under, so there will be one of those products that will come back because that is what you really want. But even so, if you put it all in context, what we don't want, any elite athlete is yesterday, you didn't measure sleep.
You had little awareness of it, and it was not a performance criteria. So the run-up to an Olympic games. It was not a factor. So whatever happens, how well you slept, whether you slept the night before the final or the semifinal, whatever it might be, it was all irrelevant. You still did it. Right. And you may still have one gold or silver or bronze or broke a personal best.
So hang on a minute. Now you've now got something in your system that tells you that you're not sleeping well. And that you're not getting enough of this and enough of that, or what are you going to do with that information? Are you going to ignore it or are you gonna do something with it?
Jonathan Levi: Right. And that leads me actually to my next question.
I didn't realize that you came into all of this from a sleep product perspective. I kind of assumed that you came from a medical background, which leads me to want to ask. There's a lot of debate about hard beds, soft beds, memory foam pillows, not memory foam, pillow bedding, what are, and I understand that this is very individualized, but what are some general rules?
If I'm not someone who's going to hire Nick Littlehales for my once a week, triathlon training or something like that. How do I go into that corner shop, where they're selling bedding, where they're selling mattresses, all that stuff, and be educated about what my needs are and what I need to be looking for?
Nick Littlehales: It's a lot simpler than you would think. Oh, that's good. I like that. Quite simply. And there's access to this check via my website or betrayed us to everybody who might be listening, but I'll briefly describe what it is. Everybody has a profile, physical profile, height, weight, shape, shoulders, hips. You've got things like allergies.
You've got things like how sensitive you are to temperature. There's all these little factors, those basic principles. Now you take that profile just like you would taking a measurement of somebody's foot. Jonathan, the first thing you're trying to establish with somebody's foot is the size and the width around between the toes.
And once you've got that, Then not basically you can go into any shoe shop and say to somebody, I like those shoes. Next question. Do you have size nine? Right? If they say we don't have any size nine, but we've got a six, you don't buy the six. It doesn't fit. If they say we've got a 10 and a half you go, Hmm. Maybe I could an inner soul in it to make it fit better.
But so nevermind. I need to go to another shop to see if they've got a nine. Now, if you look back at that and say, I'm going to spend eight hours with this mattress in this case, then it should be a size nine. If you're a size nine. Now, just like in that scenario, there are many people who've got size nine feet, so it's not a bespoke profile.
It's not a unique profile to you. So you have to make size nines. What happens in the marketplace is that if I produce a size nine mattress and Jonathan walks into the shop and goes. Ooh. I like the look of that one. Have you got it in a size nine? They say that's completely irrelevant. Anybody can sleep on that mattress.
In fact, all the Manchesters in this shop, a good fear. I'm a one-suspend. Oh, well, by the way, this one's got 49,000 Springs in it. That's it. I didn't even know how many Springs I need. What sort of Springs are they? This one's got from, this is memory foam. It remembers exactly your shape. And does this, and it comes from NASA.
This has got latex in it. This has got natural fillings in it. This is thicker than that one. This will last longer than this one just sits on the end of it and try it. And you sort of go, okay, this one has got all of these features. It's orthopedic, it's chiropractic. It makes you more beautiful. It makes you go faster.
It's designed for athletes. Whatever shape you are, whatever sports you're in, whether you get heart or whether you're this, it doesn't matter that much. This is fantastic for everybody who comes in this shop, really one product fit or doesn't make sense, but you've never questioned it. So all you need to do are you left or right-handed?
Right-handed. You're right. A hundred. Okay. Very simple thing. As part of any profile you do with any athlete and you will be smiling when I tell you this Jonathan you're right-handed. So you're correct. And most favored sleeping position will be on your left side, the opposite to your dominant side, which is less sensitive in a fetal position.
And that's your best position. Just sleeping.
Jonathan Levi: So not on the back.
Nick Littlehales: No, no, no, no, no, no. Interesting.
No. So if you're in a lovely fetal position, just like you come from the womb the first month, because little infants moving into your teens, you run-up to a bed. You, you go into a tent, you're just curl up. I need to be any opportunity. If there's nobody else sleeping with you, then you will go onto your left side, curl up. And that's the process you want because mentally cause sleeping is a lot about ticking boxes mentally. Mentally, if you want to drop down into those wonderful deep sleep stages, which becomes more difficult as you get older, then you've got to be in a very secure place because it's going to put you into a paralyzed state.
Now, I can protect myself cause I'm right-handed. And so can you, if I'm sleeping on my left side, I can protect my hearts. I can protect my genitals and I can protect myself. If I'm made aware of danger. Now that means I'll put you into a deep sleep. Also from a physical rehabilitation side, because your left side is less sensitive.
You'll be able to lie in that position for longer periods, without making all the little adjustments through the hours of sleep. So wherever you move naturally, of course, but what you want to be doing is moving naturally not being asked or forced to, so yeah. Getting into the left side position, staying in that for a nice period, then moving may be to your front, moving to your back for a little bit, but you're always encouraged to go back to your left side.
That's the process? Not it's really uncomfortable in a fetal position. I don't like being in a belly position. So I'll sleep on my back.
Jonathan Levi: Where's the left-hand. Is it kind of under the pillow or it's out in front of us?
Nick Littlehales: The fetal position is that simple. If, if you've got anybody with you, we're both looking at each other with the eye contact.
As if that's level, we fold our arms very gently. Just a nice, relaxed, folded-down position. And then just simply bend the knees overtly, trying to keep your bum going down in a straight line as if you're doing some sort of power lift and you adopt that position. And then that's the position horizontally you want on it.
Jonathan Levi: I see. And so the left elbow is out in front of the abdomen. Oh, okay. Now you mentioned all this memory foam and latex and stuff like that. Separate that out for us. What's BS and what isn't.
Nick Littlehales: The second bit to that is what you now need to do. And you can do this tonight. Simply adopt that position on the floor in your bedroom, whether it's got carpet wooden floors, doesn't matter just to drop that position on the floor.
And what you will say straight away is that there is a large gap between your head on the floor. And that knee on your head will be dropping towards the floor quite clearly, showing that you need something there to support it. If you stay there for even just a few seconds, 30 seconds, 20 seconds, you will start to feel the pressure of the floor on your shoulder, on your hips and on your knees and ankles.
Along that side, you'll start to feel the pressure. If you stay there even longer, you will have to try to hold your head up. As well as that you'll have to make an adjustment to go to your front. And do that sort of free-fall position, trying to spread your weight out and everything else, that position will be uncomfortable straight onto that floor, particularly for your head.
So the next thing you'll do is move to your back, trying to spread your way to trying to not have this pressure on your shoulders and hands spreading it all out, lying flat, and that will be about the most comfortable position you can find on the floor, but very, very quickly, you'll be asked to move to your front again then to your back again, but on your side in a fetal position, it's just not a position.
The flow will allow you to be in without a big pillow under your head. So if you then adopt that onto your current mattress. Exactly the same stripped of bedding, lie on it on your left side, in that fetal position. And then all you're looking for. Do you have a gap? And if you've got a gap more than about two hands with about five or six centimeters, then that mattress is not releasing on the, for your sleeping works.
It's not releasing away. I'm putting you completely in line with your head against the mattress surface. Your shoulders have gone into the product, your hips, into the product, and you'll totally balance this issue of floating in water. There's no aggravation. So if you've got a gap, that's because you bought a size 10, not a size nine.
Meaning too firm or too
soft, too fun. Right. It's pushing you away because what you're looking for with the materials that you're using, and I will answer your question in a night, the materials that you're using is it doesn't matter what it is. Right. We sleep in tents on bits of fun. We sleep on sofas and floors and trains and everything else.
Just take the concept that when you're trying to do it correctly, And you've got the opportunity to do that. Like in your home, that mattress simply must take your full weight, take your body shape with absolute ease. And so it gives you the sensation that you don't need any pillow whatsoever to sleep with.
Because when you're in that position without a pillow, then your net vertebrae is beautifully in line with the rest of your spine posture. In that fetal position, there's no pressure building up, asking you to move. You can lie there for as long as you want and stop thinking and drifting and fall into the natural sleep state.
You're in a protected position. So if you want to get some deep sleep, you find you're in your best protective position with your right side free and off you go. When you want to move to your front. Because there's no pillow there, then not only are you flat on the surface with your arms, probably around your head in souls, a type of sort of pillow hugging position, but there's no pillow they're shifting the neck vertebrae up and your head is actually twisted.
It's only when you do it naturally. And when you stand there, it almost falls. You turn your head 90 degrees to the right. So it's over your shoulder and then push it backward and you go out. Ouch. I can feel that pressure. Well, that's exactly what's happening in a free-fall position on a mattress with a pillow under your head, get rid of it.
And at least you'd minimize that process. If you go to your back then the pillow under your head simply raises the neck vertebrae. Again, it closes off. When your muscles go into a complete relaxed state, it makes it more difficult for you to breathe. And in that position and all your genital heart is exposed to the brain.
Doesn't like that position. You will mouth breathe because we're all mouth breezes instead of bringing nice, relaxed in and through the nose. Which gets you oxygen. It does all the wonderful things to help you get into a sleep state. You'll be just dragging air in through your mouth, getting dry mouth snoring, snorting, very uncomfortable.
So you'll shift out to it. So that's what you do. You take up position on the floor. You realize the gap, you realize that the floor is very, very hard for you and requires help. When you get onto your current mattress, you examine that. And if you've got a gap, it means it's too hard, what you can do. And if you've got loads of pillows, I don't care how many pillows you've got on your bed for style or whatever, it doesn't matter.
But your sleeping pillow wants to be as shallow as you possibly could because all it wants to be. There is simply for comfort. Because we'd like something under our head, but it wants to be so shallow that it's not impacting on this whole process. And all you do is when you go shopping. All you want to do is go into the shop.
Ignore the salespeople. You've always got a budget. There's always a budget. Isn't it don't just buy anything. So you find things that are within your budget and you climbed onto that bed and you adopt your fetal position on your left side and see how big that gap is. Even if you haven't got somebody with you to observe it by just being by the side of the bed, when you're doing it, you can just simply move your right hand and you can feel it.
You can feel that there's a drop of the head. So then you just go to the next one. I see. And you find the one that does it now that's in principle. The first thing you must do, if you're buying things online, then you can't do that process. It's not the end of the world because you can actually, and this is not a plug for me, but the reason why we're talking, I get people all the time, whether they're in elite sports or not, it could simply be you.
Jonathan's an intelligent person. Who's also got a real interest in sports. You would just contact me. I give you a questionnaire, you send it back to me and I tell you what you need. Oh, interesting. So in some cases, That can be a better process than trying to do it yourself because all the, all the peer in your profile is you're a size nine.
So I give you a size nine.
Jonathan Levi: I see. And so the material itself is less important really?
Nick Littlehales: When you come to the next stage if you found two mattresses that release nicely for you so that you're getting that done and you got right that one's okay. This one's okay. And then you look at what's that one made of, and what's this one made up.
Now, if you can now select between those two and one has got springs and natural fillings and all of that sort of thing. The other one, like you say, might be a more modern-day approach with memory foam, latex, or whatever. The one thing that. You might be considering is whether you have allergies or not.
Breathing is an essential part of good sleep. So foams, unlike textiles tend to be a real sort of hyper epigenetic environment. Whereas, springs and natural fillings tend to harbor a lot of pollutants, including allergens, dust, mite, fecal particles, and things like that. And over a very short space of time, they can become quite a nest of allergens, which can disturb breathing patterns, whether you suffer from any allergies or not.
So you'd start to say, right, I want to go for something that is hypoallergenic. So I know that the foam and the latex work also, it's very difficult for certain fillings. To adapt to your body shape very easily. As you move around in sleep, you want to almost a weightlessness feeling with your product. So when you look at things like springs and natural fillings, they literally, you lie on them.
And they pushed back against you because that's the nature of a sprint. You put 10K on it and it pushes back with 10K. So you're lying on the top. So initially on the shop floor, you might, I feel it's very comfortable. It shapes to your body. It feels very nice. There's no gap there. So that ticks next box.
I'm happy, but the natural fillings. And the sprint is they will all start to just flatten out on the compression over time. So they'll lose that bounce and that balance. And they'll start to be confirming the spring itself as it's in use. So as you sit on the side of it and everything else will start to lose some of its 10 style properties.
And so this is why you see things they feel okay in the shop. But then after time, they lose it. So then you'd look back at the foam and the latex ones and go, they would just keep returning. So it's a better balance set or investment. It's a better investment. And then all the features and benefits that it'll do this and do this and do this and do this and do this and do this.
That's absolutely fine, but you're looking at it from a point. So I'm always developing things, but I'm not designing things just because I'm trying to attract people's attention. I don't care what bed you want to put in your bedroom. Jonathan. I don't care. It can be pallets bricks, just chuck it on the floor or some fancy French bed frame, or metal fry wherever you might be.
Is that the matches she put inside? That is what you're actually sleeping with. So the only function of that product is to tick all the sleeping boxes I sent that is fully breathable. That is hypoallergenic.
And then what we need to do is because we can do it with foams and latex is you can't do it with other materials. I can actually choose a density, a size nine density for your size nine profile. And that means we can get everything right.
Jonathan Levi: I see, so there's a lot more and I want to kind of change gears cause I have so many questions beyond that. Really? You said eight hours, you've mentioned circadian rhythm. So I guess a two-part question. How much is enough? How much does the actual time sleep vary? And is it really as important as they say to sleep in 90-minute multiples to make sure you're not waking up in the middle of a circadian cycle?
Nick Littlehales: The way that you get asked the question a lot.
And I think everybody sort of knows because it's proven all the time. For a healthy adult, you need eight hours and a sleep recovery state in any 24. That's what we were looking for. Circadian rhythms also sort of dictate that we need a constant wake to time because the sleep pattern loves that. And we need to get to bed at the same time.
Well, if you're on an eight-hour routine, Then you must have a constant wait time. You must have a constant sleep time. You can't keep shifting that around Kenya. But the fact is I don't meet anybody who does it. And in sports, and as in all the population, this is sort of, we talk about sleep hygiene.
That's confusing in itself. We talk about any day hours. Well, I don't get it. I don't plan for it. I don't go to bed at the same time every night, sometimes, you know, maybe three or four days a week, five days a week. I get at the same time. But when I don't have to get up at the same time, I don't get up at the same time.
So I don't do any of that. So when you actually look back at it, what I use with is trying to just get a very simple process. And it's something that I do myself is, as you mentioned, sleep is principally measured in a 90-minute cycle in a 90 minute period. You've got this opportunity to wander through all the various stages of sleep and hopefully grab some of the good stuff during that period.
So if that's the process. It doesn't mean to say you're always going to get every single stage of sleep in that period because there's so many factors that disturb it. So the way I look at it is to think cycles, not hours. You just simply take, it gives you a much better subconscious way of dealing with every day planning for any month, year as a process, it puts more focus on what you're doing and it gives you flexibility and confidence, which is absolutely key to sleep because worrying about not sleeping is as bad as not sleeping.
What I do is very simple. If most people are aware of the circadian rhythms and principally driven by sunup to sundown. So when the sun comes up, the lights coming in, which is affecting us as human beings, and we need to be in harmony with that process. So I picked 6:30. Yeah, 6:30 because my Cronin side is a lock.
I like to get up. I'm far more functional in the mornings. I also talk a lot, which is why I'm talking a lot to you. Um, so I'm far more functional in the afternoon. I'm not really interested. It's more difficult. I have to do other things. So I get up at 6:30 every day. Every single day, it doesn't matter.
What's going on. If you work back in five 90 minutes cycles, you have got 11 o'clock, 11 o'clock is another circadian trigger because we put a clock on a period where our body wants to it's suppressing bowel movements. From 9:30 onwards because of the clock point. It's also shifting those two hormones, serotonin, and melatonin.
It wants you to know from light to dark, it wants you to go into a sleep state around that particular part, which we call 11 o'clock. Yep. 11 til 6:30 is five 90 minutes cycles, which is 7.5 hours and that's not an eight.
Jonathan Levi: There you go. I was going to ask, because I know if I sleep eight versus seven and a half, I feel better at the seven and a half. Last night, I was up late doing exactly what you shouldn't be doing, which is looking at a screen.
And when I looked at the clock and decided I should go to bed, I need to wake up in five hours. I said you know what, I'm going to wind down for half an hour and sleep the four and a half instead of the five. Right.
Nick Littlehales: Well, what I'm using with elite athletes, you're doing it yourself. And that's why it's not something that's very specific.
The more people who adopt that. So like you, what I've got now is if I can roll through those five cycles, And get elements, deep sleep in every pattern I'm not waking up after each night, I'm just flowing through five 90 minute periods to come out of sleep at 6:30 naturally refreshed now. If things happen, like you just mentioned, we've gotten sports games are played at 7:45 till 12 o'clock at night.
We've got all sorts of things that can go on right now today. Just simply taking advantage of this is the last day I've got. I want to go out tonight, Jonathan. I have some, a great time, have a few drinks or something to eat tonight and I'm not going to say no, I'm fine. So. What happens is I will use 12:30 is the next slot, which is four I'll use two, which is three.
And on some occasions, I'll use 3:30 into 6:30. The wait time always remains constant. I love that. Always remains constant.
Jonathan Levi: That's a good, actionable tip for people in the audience. I mean, we've given them homework already with a, you know, lay on the ground on your side, but that's also a really good one set, a very, very rigid wake-up time.
Nick Littlehales: Yeah. So what we've got now is you've got something that everybody can just adopt. It's not a routine. We don't like routines. And particularly when we have to be so flexible. So my athletes just love the fact. They start the year with their coaches. They want five cycles every night. For 365 days, five cycles over seven days give them 35 cycles.
Now, if they could achieve that, which is impossible to achieve because nobody can do it. So what you do is you look at it and say, that's would be the target. How close. Can we get to that target? What's realistic for us. What did we do last year? And if you just look at what happens well, in that particular period, if we look at it in cycles, rather than ours, we got 32 cycles in that period.
Oh, in that seven-day period. And in that period, we got 30 cycles. So what we want to do is when we're planning and looking at everything we're doing, whether it's a week, month or a year, is if during that period, I have got the opportunity to gather 30 cycles, 30, 90-minute cycles during the course of that seven days, I'm happy because at least I know what I'm doing.
It's not random. It's just something controlled. Now, if I look at a period and it's 26 cycles, I'm going, that's too low. Yeah. That's pushing the boundaries. So all it does is a prize, this lovely way of doing it. But the only way you can answer this for your listeners is don't think of it. In eight was strictly about the nocturnal period.
We have naturally three periods every day. We've just got rid of them apart from Spain. And you still love it. Yes.
Jonathan Levi: I was going to ask you about the siesta because personally, I'm a huge advocate of the biphasic. I take a nap every day. I'm wondering what your thinking is on that. I am definitely not. I'm definitely not.
No, no, by all means, but that's why I actually I'd like to know what are your thoughts on the napping and the biphasic or even polyphasic sleep.
Nick Littlehales: Absolutely vital in today's world. So I'm doing okay. Literally, if, like you said, I woke up this morning and I'm thinking 11 o'clock till 6:30, but things happen.
So what I don't do is if I got in late tonight because I've been out somewhere trying to take advantage of the great weather or whatever it might be. Then I don't get into my room and, and it's 10 to 11, just brush my teeth and jump into bed. I will allow that 90 minute period for me to stop thinking about the day for me to go from light to dark, to empty bowel and bladder.
If I need to, if I need a little snack and extra hydration, then I take it then and just allow that process to go really nice. And then I get. Into bed and ready to sleep at 12:30. So that's the kind of process you're doing these opportunities is to make sure that you always have a pre-sleep routine and take the pressure off having to get into bed.
Cause I need eight hours cause it won't work right. What happens to them to get to your point is immediately I'm thinking about that now I'm thinking I'm going to get, I won't get back. So it's 12:30 tonight. So that's four cycles. What am I doing tomorrow? Quick. Look in my diary. Nothing I'm in the office, right?
I'm going to take a 30-minute nap tomorrow at two o'clock. Yeah.
Jonathan Levi: That's exactly how I do it for every cycle. I miss. I do a 22 minute. I find that if I sleep 30, I'm done, but that's because I'm dozing off after a minute or two. Yeah. So I feel completely worthless if I sleep more than 22 minutes in the middle of the day, I just want to sleep a full 90.
Yeah. As soon as speaking, Nick, I want to come back though. One thing on the show, we've talked in the past about light exposure using bright lights, something like Phillips hue lights to wake up and also the flux software on the computer to dim down the light and everything like that. How are you dealing with the fact?
And I know it's super, super important to have a very dark sleeping environment, but you mentioned you're using natural light in the morning. It's sunlight. So I'm actually in the process of trying to program a little microcomputer with a motor. That's going to open my blinds every morning, but how are you dealing with this getting natural light versus not having a streetlight or even moonlight coming into the room while you're sleeping?
Nick Littlehales: I think this is one of the areas where we've got this technology now. And so it raises these issues and people like you were thinking, right. You know, a device to have my curtains. Principally in and around this area, but you need to just take on borders. Ideally, you would be going to sleep in darkness.
As if you're outside. So your curtains don't even need them when you've gone into that dark process. If you imagine when you set outside puff centuries ago, is that as the sun's gone down, the temperature starts to drop the only light that we have at that moment in time, maybe from stars and moon, principally coming from a fire, which is yellow lights.
Which is absolutely great, but at some point, the darkness is going to have an effect on you and you'll fall asleep. As soon as the sun comes up, the light will trigger certain things in your body and bring you into natural wake state. So ideally that's what we should be doing, but that's not the way things are.
So if you do pull blackouts into your room, which everybody gets encouraged to do. To try and stop all of that light that's outside coming in and take that process, which is great. The one thing you do need is waking in blackout is completely counterproductive, right? Exactly. Cause you've got none of that light.
So what we need is this is where technology is great is like you may go, Oh, I'm going to, you don't want to wake up. And be able to press the remote to open the curtains. Sure. That's not right. You need it to do it naturally for you. So as the sun comes up, it triggers curtains open. Exactly. I'm fasting. So we need curtains that react to outside sunlight.
Jonathan Levi: Because I have found that, uh, the Phillips hue lights are good, but they're not producing UV. Well, so it's not the same and it's not making me as alert. And as soon as I actually reach over and pull the blinds manually, all of a sudden I'm feeling much more alert.
Nick Littlehales: Yeah. The Lumie Dawn Simulator, Jonathan. They keep developing and that's a great way to if you can. Put your brave in darkness, go out, maybe do the last thing.
Like you have a way or whatever it is, come back into the room in total darkness. But what you've got there is the Lumie Dawn Simulator, which is actually got that 30-minute drop from that light in the room and takes you right down and then goes out. Puts you into a natural sleep state. And the same thing happens in the morning.
So at 6:30, my alarm's on, but at six o'clock, it starts to put that light into the room. And so it brings me to a certain point. Like you say, you have to be a little bit careful which ones you buy because of the quality of lights, but principally, they will bring you to that point. And then when I get out of bed and open the curtains, being out, I'm ready to go.
Jonathan Levi: I see. Any recommended product there?
Nick Littlehales: There's um, pre-general look at everything. One company is called Lumie, lumie.com. If you just put like simulators in your search, you'll find it, but lumie.com and like all of these things, the basic product is the best one. But what you want this to do is not play tunes on sing songs and do all of the other stuff.
It's simply there. To bring light into and out of the room.
Introduction: Awesome. I want to ask one other thing, which is a kind of a two-part question again. I'm sorry. I keep hitting you with these long-form ones, but. You mentioned, you know, it's getting the temperature's going to drop. We're going to be cold. I've read that you want your sleeping environment to be as low as 18 degrees Celsius or 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
At the same time, I've read that sleeping with an air conditioner, dries out the air. Air passageways, um, can cause sinus issues. How are you managing temperature? And is it really, I mean, that seems freezing to me, 18 degrees Southeast is quite cold.
Nick Littlehales: Look, I think it's proven and you've got that 16 degrees to 18-degree area, which is researched heavily.
And that's what I just say. All it needs to be in principle is it needs to be cooler. Then your body temperature.
Jonathan Levi: Right? And then the blanket can be warm. Right? The idea is have a warm blanket and a cold breathing environment. Right.
Nick Littlehales: I think. So it doesn't get confused the bed and the room needs to be cooler than you.
So if what you don't want is a bed that is warmer than your body temperature, less than ideally, a little bit cooler, because that process of your natural body temperature shifting to a slightly cooler temperature cause the sun's gone. The is dropping. So your body temperature is dropping with that cool.
So if you think that your bed is the sun's gone. So there's the bed and that is now got much cooler and now your body wants to go down to that temperature settle for a period of time until up comes the sun. Again, it's really counterproductive if your environment and your bed itself and during sleep is raising your body temperature, not just letting that body temperature go in.
So I would always have, when I'm concerned about that, when temperature outside and like you say, air conditioning, God avoid it. If you can, is that I will always tend to sort of maybe have a, a very quick rinse in the shower. It's not necessarily for cleaning myself and going to wake me up, but all it does is just that's the end of the day, feel nice, feel clean, rinse, but it's just took my body temperature up a couple of slides.
Into a cooler bed, not cold. That's wrong. Just that cool touch and being out. Uh, so it's a hot shower. No, we'll just a warm one.
Jonathan Levi: Okay, and then the kind of being damp, I guess is what's cooling the body temperature down.
Nick Littlehales: And it's, it's just sometimes if you relate it back to, you know, you've got the females, love it harder than guys, most so electric blankets, and this is what it comes back to the product side.
When you're choosing your mattress is another step you'll do is your sensitivity to temperature. I can walk around and I've got a t-shirt shirt and a jumper on. And I walked past the guys and girls who just got t-shirts on and I'm going, God, it's freezing. How can you do that? So, although there is this sort of fixed point between male and female, as far as body temperatures are concerned, which some of us are just more sensitive than others to temperature.
So always in this case is your bed might be a lot warmer than mine. But as long as your body temperature is warmer than that, then at least you've got a process going on. So always just think cooler, not cold.
Jonathan Levi: I see. So try to avoid these thick do veins that kind of roast you.
Nick Littlehales: If you've got your room temperature controlled at exactly 17.5 degrees, the optimum sleep temperature, but then you've got this mattress that you chose, and it does all of the next top tips, but it's also got these materials in it and these materials are going to cook you.
When you're lying on them for this seven-and-a-half-hour period, which is an absolute age, it's such a long time. It's unbelievable. Right? Is that you'll be relying on that cooking you, and then you're going to put, what did you put with it? Well, I just got this one from the shop. It was beautiful and an offer.
Okay. What top rating it is? I don't know what the top rating means. What's it made of you put that with you with that matches. We've now put you in another, on tune, the degrades and that pillow, which is aggravating you. Cause you didn't take that like that you've put this great big pillow that you bought from the shop with the mattress.
That was ideal. I told you, you guys are shallow run you're tossing and turning, trying to get this whole thing comfortable and attuned to degree of them. You might as well do Bikram yoga.
Jonathan Levi: I love it. Okay. That's a good tip because I do try and sleep a little bit cold. And like I said, we had Dr. Kirk Parsley on here saying cold and dark cold and dark.
And even in LA yeah, sorry, cool and dark…
Nick Littlehales: Nobody wants cold.
Jonathan Levi: Right. And even the led from the, uh, the smoke detector can kind of throw off your sleep apparently. So as dark as possible, I understand.
Nick Littlehales: I probably would take a guest that you would relate to something I'm about to tell you. In elite sports, one of the fantastic marginal gangs that I did with a cycling team, and you always think it's always about data and science and everything else.
Let me just ask you, would you agree with me that when I put fresh linen on my bed, I am naturally feeling I want to get in there. I naturally feel I want to get in there and I'm probably going to have a great night's sleep. How do you feel about that?
Jonathan Levi: I would say so. I'd say it depends on your detergent, but yeah, I would say so.
Nick Littlehales: Yeah. So if you've got nice linen and it's fresh, you changed your back and it sort of makes you feel as though you want to get in and sleep well. Well, why don't you do that every night?
Jonathan Levi: I mean, pragmatism, I guess a launder, the linens every night or every day?
Nick Littlehales: Putting fresh linen on your bed every day. If you go to a hotel.
That's pretty much what happens. Oh, interesting. So when people say, Oh, when I go on holiday or I sleep better normally it's because they're in a bigger bed, which is another subject that I can tell you about the dynamics of sleeping with somebody else as well as on your own is absolutely critical. But fresh linen is if you change your bed Linen say once a week, once a fortnight. You know, from the minute you've put the fresh linen on the following day, it feels warmer.
It doesn't feel the same. It's not as crisp. It's not as comfortable. You stop making it. It's messier. And then at some point, because you've got the opportunity to take the bedding off and put new bedding on, and then you've got to wash it and it's all like, but from that moment, You get a better period of sleep when it's fresh.
So if you did it once a week, but you did it twice a week, it's a hundred percent improvement in your sleep quality.
Jonathan Levi: Interesting. I've never thought about that. I love it.
Nick Littlehales: It's all I did was designed linen. It's not technical stuff, but it's microfiber. It doesn't heat. The body up. It does hypoallergenic.
It's easy to wash it. Hand wash is in a bowl at 30 or 10 degrees or 60 degrees. It doesn't matter. It drives within 10 or 15 minutes in any room temperature. So all you do is the athletes they had. Five sets of linen. Oh, that's brilliant. So each day they had a fresh set of linen and well doesn't that make us all feel great.
Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. It's such a simple when you wouldn't wear your underwear twice in a row, and you're wearing that arguably for eight hours till you come home and get in your sweats, but you're in your sheets. Every single I've never thought about that. You're in them 10 times before you changed them.
Nick Littlehales: Not to prolong your interview.
But what I said before is it's such a silly thing to say, but I say it and it always resonates is if, if you're in an office environment or wherever you might be outside of your home, and you go into a room at 8:30 quarter to nine in the morning, and you're going to stay there until five or 5:30 that night.
Normal working day. For most in that period of time, you can't talk to anybody. Listen to anything. You can't go to the toilet. You can't eat, you can't drink. You can't change the temperature in the room. You can't adjust anything. You're just stuck in that room. Now you will certainly start to realize what a long time it is doing nothing. That's a long, long time. So you'll try and maybe get comfortable on the floor or whatever chairs in the room or a table or something can be irritable and you use, can't wait to get out.
Now you go back to that room the next day, and the temperature will be right. You will have eaten and fueled up properly and hydrated properly beforehand.
You'll make sure that your bowels are empty on your. Blood is empty or take something in there that's really comfortable for you to just lie on and pass those hours away certainly like that. You're making a number of things happen in that room. Yeah. Because it's a long time. So when you look at your room, when you're looking at your products and you're looking at these things is take everything out of your bedroom mentally, and then only put back in.
What is simply there to help you physically and mentally recover from the time you are going to spend in it. Everything else in there that's overstimulating a distraction, increasing temperature, not blocking lights, not allowing lights, anything like that. That's in that room is basically there to waste your time.
Being in that room trying to recover mentally and physically. So you can go and kick ass the following day. Why put it back in? Why put it back in?
Jonathan Levi: That's a really good point. So that leads into, I want to kind of get into a lightning round, which are questions you can answer even with just a sentence.
Cause some of them, Jonathan, yeah, that might be difficult. It seems we have a lot to talk about a lot of common interests. You've mentioned the bladder thing a few times. I know water is very critical for the body's repair processes. But you also don't want to be getting up in the middle of the night. What are your thoughts on water before bed?
Nick Littlehales: I think when you're looking back at our cycle program, what happens within that period between 11 and 6:30, whether you're on cycles or not. Is that around that 3:30, 3 o'clock area? Is when most of us can easily hop out of sleep and principally that's the area where we want to empty the bladder because it's built up.
So the last thing you want is to be hopping out, to empty your bladder. We tend to have been really encouraged through sports. Over the last couple of decades to get plenty of hydration, two liters, three liters, keep hydrating. What we've also done though, is we have a much better approach to our diets, right?
So what you've seen, what we do in sport now, there is basically there is drowning. If you're not careful because you're getting large constitutes of claim, plain water, but then you are eating a good range of vegetables and things like that. Improved. If you've got a nice balanced diet, which is something we're all concentrating on, we're cutting out other things is that basically, you get a lot of water from that, right?
So you just need to be a little bit careful. You're not over-hydrating because it is your diet with wherever you get your water from. It's not just out of the bottle. I love that. So when you get to the point of pre-sleep is that's why whatever happens. I want to make sure that if I'm doing my five cycle routine tonight, then when it gets to 9:30, which is the last 19 minutes before then, all I'm thinking about is you've got to shut your tech down.
Whether I've got diffuses on my devices to get rid of the blue lights or whatever it is. It's also more important than that. It's also important. I've got to start moving from light to dark. I've got to stop asking my brain to keep going over all of this stuff. Shut it down. Do that. Certainly, do I feel as though I'm a bit, I need a bit of water or yet we'll all choose water with a tiny little bit of fruit squash in it because that helps the digestive process of water.
And that means to our need to empty I'm a little bit hungry. Should it take a snack? Make sure it's not something that takes hours to digest.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I wanted to ask on that actually is pre-sleep nutrition, especially.
Nick Littlehales: If you're always looking towards trying to achieve a 90 minute or 60 minute period before your targeted sleep time, then it pretty much is okay.
If you've got a normal balanced diet, then whatever you're going to maybe snack on would probably be something from that range of foods. It's fine. It's a bit like that person, you know, you always get told don't eat too late. I'm on a three-cycle routine tonight. I'm actually two till 6:30, so I can eat at 11.
Is that right?
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, definitely.
Nick Littlehales: Right. So when you say to somebody don't eat too late, and don't eat this and don't eat that, that only applies to people who haven't got any routine going on whatsoever. Right. In my world, part of my, whatever I'm choosing to eat. And sometimes it's not good cause I'm. They just taste nice or it's easier last week's McDonald's or any other hamburger joints. I'll have a little thing, but in a nice balanced way, I just make sure that from that range of foods that I've got, if I want to just hydrate a little bit up or just take a little snack, cause I don't want to be hungry during sleep.
I'll do it then, but I've still got this process during that time as a move light to dark shutting down the tech, not overstimulating, looking at relaxation, meditative type things, even if it's reading a book or whatever it is. So that means I've got a real opportunity to empty my bladder before I actually get to that time.
I see if the little snack trick triggers, or maybe I could open my bowel, it's got that opportunity to do it. So. It's only when you don't have that in your head is where things go wrong. Well, the thing is also is not getting disturbed and I think a lot of people will take water to bed. Oh, some sort of drink.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I certainly do.
Nick Littlehales: You do. Now whether you wake up or not, for a lot of people, simply what happens is, is that that is a trigger to your brain to wake up and drink it. You wake up in the morning and drink your water first thing. Or do you wake up at night?
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, so I ended up just cause I have congestion and I'm thinking it may be allergen-related after talking to you, but I've had some kind of nose issues all my life.
I wake up with. Just the nastiest, driest mouth and a horrible case. So I immediately reached for my water and then immediately, as soon as I'm kind of up in my eyes are open I'm in there brushing my teeth.
Nick Littlehales: Okay. You mentioned very early on if I was correct that you liked sleeping on your back.
Jonathan Levi: So I actually, I've been told all my life to sleep on my back. I prefer sleeping on my stomach kind of stomach side kind of situation in between. I've recently learned to sleep on my side, but I've always been a stomach sleeper.
Nick Littlehales: Yeah. So if part of any sort of consultation process coaching is, first of all, you go, right? You're taking water to bed. Why, if you are waking up in the middle of the night to either pass year or take that drink, then that is a trigger before you even start to go into a sleep state for your to brain to remember this, to wake you up and break a cycle.
So you can and say, well, why is this process and was quite simply for you. There are a number of devices. You put things. Up your nose to keep the nasal passages open, you can put little strips on your nose to keep the laser passes open. You can do all sorts of things, but principally, the best thing you need to do is if you try your mattress tonight and you feel this gap in that left side, but then that's why you want to adopt these other positions.
You could put a topper on top of your mattress to create that rather than changing whole mattress. You can make sure you're using the shallowest pillow that you've got, or you buy one that's really shallow, or you just fold a towel in half. And you put that there, it'll encourage you to sleep on your side more often.
And as that process starts to kick in, so you're spending less time on your front and less time on your back. Your dry mouth will be solved.
Jonathan Levi: Interesting. I love that because it's been something I've suffered with for years. So I really do appreciate that. Nick. I want to ask one or maybe two questions. I'm sorry.
Sorry to take up your entire day here. What about supplementation? We all know magnesium is very important for sleep as it is for weight training. Are you supplementing your athletes with magnesium and also are there other sleep supplements that are important that are adding value to their sleep regimen?
Nick Littlehales: I think you are, uh, a little bit unique, Jonathan, in you have a real handle on 90-minute cycles, you have a handle on quite a lot of factors, which is quite rare in my world to come across, but it's nice and there'll be a lot more people like you, as long as conversations like this and all the other various experts continue to stop focusing on disorders.
And the disorders on the process of sleeping while you're in a sleep state and start to concentrate on conversations like this. It doesn't mean to say I'm the experts and they're not. It's just, there is an academic side to sleep a clinical side, to sleep where we keep making sure that we understand all of those things and how it affects us as human beings.
There is another one in this area. So the answer to your question is the best supplement you can do is change the way you approach sleep.
Jonathan Levi: Right.
Nick Littlehales: That is your best supplement. If you've got a nice, reasonable, healthy diet, not ridiculous, then you'll be getting everything that you need from that. If you're getting a reasonable level of exercise, even if it's just walking and doing things like that, that's absolutely brilliant.
If you work on 90 minutes cycles and work between those sorts of things with your constant work, use the afternoon for naps, you can do, you can take a nap on a train in public with all your personal belongings, snoring, and drooling, and talking in front of everybody. You don't know. So you can nap anywhere you can nap anywhere.
You don't need some fancy room. So, between one and three and five and seven, you just take that process. You get all that together, understand your chronotype. If you're an AMR or a PMO, or you've lost sight of it. Cause you're an in-between. And then get yourself refocused on that. Learn more about the circadian rhythms, because you don't have to be an academic, just get a better knowledge of it because there is things happening through that lightened-up process that your body is not. Nick, it's my body.
My brain wants to interact and follow this process. It's got nothing to do with tech. It wants to do it certain times. If you get all of that together and you can approach it, then, you know, I spend most of my time in an overstimulated. Whether that's through tech, through trying to live life to the full, or simply because the levels of caffeine in your body are just through the roof.
Sure. I spend most of my time educating elite groups. When they get to the point of overstimulating in every single way, over-training over venting, over this, over that, over analyzing, over this, everything gets overstimulated, particularly with caffeine is they start popping, sleeping tablets.
Jonathan Levi: Right? Which is not helping anybody. They're not actually getting it all.
Nick Littlehales: I think that's the best way to look at it. When you have anybody that says how to get a good night's sleep, Nick. And I say, there is no such thing. There's no top tips for you to get a good night's sleep tonight or next week or the week after you simply need to start adopting new techniques, not weird techniques, none of what we've discussed.
I doubt any of your listeners will not simply just go. Wow. I knew that already. Right. The fact is they're not doing it.
Jonathan Levi: Right. The only thing I will say that I did learn and did, I think somewhat surprised me, maybe just, I found interesting in the Forbes article was that you actually set up a sleep environment that encourages spouses, mates, boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands.
To leave the room after certain acts. So I think if I read correctly, I mean, I sped read the article, but if I read correctly, you're against the no sex before the big game, but you are also against, you know, honey or sweetheart staying in the bed with the elite athlete.
Nick Littlehales: Getting a little bit misinterpreted. So I'll qualify for it in two ways. One, obviously there are specific pieces of research this citizen to act of sex drains energy, and does certain things to you. So avoiding that running into particular events or a set of exams in university. Any major event that we might be doing detrimental. I also know a lot of people..
Jonathan Levi: Avoiding would be detrimental.
Nick Littlehales: Yeah. Well, avoiding having sexual encounters prior to something is going to drain energy and make certain other things go on in general terms. So don't do it. The fact is working closely with athletes for pretty much all of them being with a close partner is very emotional. It allows them to get completely away from the stress and the strain of what's happening at that particular time.
It's very intimate and pretty much puts everything in perspective. What's important in life. And sometimes if they do it last thing at night, maybe they will fall asleep. Directly afterward, if they do it during the day, they're running around like a spring chicken. So what I tell anybody is like, what we're trying to do is if the night before an event, you're not going to sleep anyway.
Cause adrenaline's through the roof. Anxiety is through the roof. So don't even try to sleep, use more other positive things. To get you through that period before an event. And that could be with your partner and that could be having some sort of sexual encounter with them because that is a positive thing.
It's relaxing, it's meditative, it's emotional. And it's what the life's all about. I am not an Envigor of telling any of my athletes not to do that normal process before it's entirely down to how they feel about it. I don't see it as a performance criteria in the slide. I see it as a positive thing, not a negative thing.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely.
Nick Littlehales: Now the thing is about sleeping with somebody is when you first meet a partner and we know you're right-handed and I'm right-handed, we don't sort of say, would you like a drink? And by the way, are you left-handed. Simply because when you're sleeping on your own, you can sleep anywhere on that mattress.
You can sleep on the left side, the right side in the middle upside down. You can always adopt the left side position. When you get a regular sleeping partner. Then one of you is going to go to the right side of the bed. If I'm looking at the headboard from the footboard for your listeners, to understand that I'm looking at the head end of the bed, I'm at the foot footprint.
So one of you is going to go on the right, the other, one's going to go on the left. Well, if you're both, right-handed, even if you're completely madly in love breathing each other's ass through the nose, whatever your partner is, when the point at which sleep starts to kick in, you'll turn away from each other.
And when you turn away from each other, If I'm on the right-hand side of the bed facing the headboard, I turn onto my left side tick box. If I'm on the left side of the bed, I turn onto my right side, not a tick box. So what you've got is the dynamics now change. So every time. My partner is either on their back or their front and not on their side.
I will remain in a position of turned away. It's only when they are turned away from me, would I then face their back and move to my left side if I'm on the wrong side. So you really do need to take into account and it goes back to products and things like that is that. This whole balance of having somebody in the room with you in a sleeping process is everything that goes on.
Like you pointed out within the article. Absolutely fantastic. When you were going to sleep state, you wanted to turn away from each other. You want to create space. So the size of the mattress is really important and that's why you get a single bed when you're a kid. And old feet and inches. It's three foot by six foot three, or it's one meter by two meters or it's 90 centimeters by one 91, you get a single bed size.
So surely two adults need a single bedside. Each that happens to be 1.8 meters by two, which we classify as a Super King here in the UK and similar around the world. It's a Super King. And which sounds like it's, but all it is is the space for two adults. Oh, wow. That's all it is. What we tend to do is buy smaller sizes.
So as children and teenagers, we get. 90 centimeters by 193 foot by six, we get through all that space. Then when we get adults, we try and sleep in a smaller space. And we wonder why when we try to turn away from each other, we're cuddling with spooning. We're comforting. We know they're there, we're in a secure environment that I want to get some space so I can go into my own sleep states.
And it's got nothing to do with them. So if they're warming the better if you've got the wrong, do faith for them, and it's not considered that both of you are on the wrong mattress. Both of you got the wrong pillows. The dynamics means it's almost a waste of time. You two sleeping together. Because what you want to do is wake up in the morning and go, wow, I'm really happy and refreshed.
And you have a great relationship with your partner and everybody.
Jonathan Levi: And then everybody's happy.
Nick Littlehales: So with athletes is simply, it's not, you know, and Roger Federer was quite happily telling everybody during the recent Wimbledon that his wife and family were a house next door to him and his stuff. Now, this is because what happens is that if you get to a particular point, When it's critical.
So what we plan into any athlete's routines, and sometimes we've got two Olympic athletes who are actually partners and they live together and sleep together as well as individually do their sport. But in general, terms, what you kind of look at is if you have a room. The is your bedroom, your private sanctuary, and it's got the TVs, the books, and all the sorts of stuff.
And it's where you can do all sorts of things. But on the right is a room for your partner. And on the left is a room for you. And at the point when you've done all of that and like turning away, you're getting towards that point of I'm going into a sleep state, you pop into your room. And in that room, there is nothing that is not there.
To help you mentally and physical recovery really, really effectively go into that room, do it, come back out and have a fantastic day with your partner. And they do the same.
Jonathan Levi: I love it. I love it. And I love that. You've just excused. Thousands of people everywhere from cuddling, because I always play that card. Neither of us are going to sleep. If I have hair in my face.
Nick Littlehales: It's ridiculous. You know, you sort of go, Oh, is your relationship broken up? Now? Our relationship is fantastic because we're not allowing that process. To affect how we recover. So we have a fantastic time, but I'll tell you what it's changed our whole approach because you know what, we're now doing things.
Yeah. In other areas of the house, which is quite exciting. We're now doing things like this differently, which is quite exciting. We actually looked at it each other, love each other. They're not some sort of horrible life. It's not something. The esophagus, Oh, we're going to sleep together forever. It's kind of just being aware that when you get to certain areas in any particular period, like in sports, where it's critical that you do the right things.
And if you've got people getting up at different times and going to work, that message around and also it's, don't be afraid to simply just add that in as a redefined approach to sleep. And there's nothing wrong with it. And you'll probably improve everything else about your relationship by doing it, not make it negative.
Jonathan Levi: I love that. That's a brilliant point to end on. Actually, Nick, you've been so, so generous with your time. I really do appreciate it. I wanted to ask you, how do people get in touch with you? How do people learn more about what you're doing? If they're not a team member of arsenal or rail Madrid, how can we get engaged in? And also I do want to know where I can pick up these microfiber sheets.
Nick Littlehales: I have a website, which is simply sportsleepcoach.com, sportsleepcoach.com. That is where you can access. There's a lot of blog posts, which go on all the time around all sorts of areas of sleep. And like you say, it's not always focused on elite sport.
Everything that we do applies to everybody, it's just, our focus is with elite sports. We have products from mattresses to pillows and everything else. It's very simple stuff. As we were talking about before, there's nothing fancy about what we do apart from the fact it's designed to help you sleep the best way you possibly can.
There's consultancy services at pretty much all levels. So if you wanted to speak to me directly, if you want to do a little consultation process to a profile, there should be something there for you to do. And I would encourage anybody if they've never done a profile before, do it once. And you'll never have to do it again.
And you'll see massive improvements in the way that you approach sleep and everything that you do. So one little investment would work. There are things like, um, you know, check out the kind of products that are available today, whether it's wearables, whether it's light devices, you know, don't be afraid to spend a little bit of time in looking these products out because some of them, you know, not everybody can do an elite athlete routine.
People can't change their environment as easily. They can't change their occupations and change things around and have naps in the afternoon. There's plenty of devices around these days that might help you just adopted an approach, but it's with a little intervention. So all of that information is around those various sleep societies.
All the major universities are producing research all the time. And I think just if you get involved and come through the sites, You'll be able to sort of access a lot of other things like conversations that we're having today, Jonathan. Lots of these tents tend to come through all the links on the site.
Jonathan Levi: Excellent and so we will post that in our show notes, sportssleepcoach.com as well as links to all of the products. Nick, again, I want to thank you for your incredible generosity with your time and sharing your wisdom with us today. I've learned a ton. It has been absolutely fascinating.
Nick Littlehales: It's been a pleasure, Jonathan.
Jonathan Levi: All right, you have a great afternoon.
Nick Littlehales: Thank you very much.
Jonathan Levi: All right. Super friends. That's it for this week's episode, we hope you really, really enjoyed it and learn a ton of applicable stuff that can help you go out there and overcome the impossible. If so, please do us a favor and leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or however you found this podcast.
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