“If you don’t snooze, you lose.”
BOTM. First I want to a give a shout out and a huge thank you to Michael Richardson for the opportunity of this guest post on Hashtagmike.com. As well as, being an amazing friend by empowering me my thoughts into writing.
It’s a grind, first one in and last to leave, or how bad do you want it; Many things take a hit in life on this path to “greatness” and “success”. Social life, time with family, health, mindfulness, and especially sleep. Early in college I was caught up in this same idea and always lived by this idea of “You can sleep when you are dead”. Driven by not wanting to miss out on opportunities to improve at coaching in the performance world or missing out on opportunities to spend time with friends/family. It slowing took a toll and caused me to realize how much of tool sleep is for our day-to-day and long term performance within our mind, body, and craft. My personal story and being in the world of Athlete Development drove my interest into reading Nick Littehales book on Sleep and how his teachings can have immediate impact.
Nick developed his expertise through working in a Sport Sleep Coaching role with Manchester United. (Personally coaching David Beckham, Christian Ronaldo, the British Cycling Team, and Sir Alex Ferguson.) The book is broken down into teaching his seven Key Sleep Recovery Indicators (7 KSRI’s). The seven are Circadian Rhythms, Chronotypes, Sleep Cycles > Hours of Sleep, Pre and Post Sleep Routines, Activity/Recovery Harmony, Re-invent the Bed, and Environment. Within each of the KSRI’s he describes ways you can assess, improve, and reflect through the process of optimizing sleep, sleep habits and his R90 program.
Sleep Cycles > Hours of Sleep. The major take away from this book was this process of understanding what kind of sleeper you are. Sleep cycles are 90 minute windows and the average needed for one night is 5 cycles (7 hours 30 minutes). With 35 cycles per week being what Littlehales has found to be optimal. This process recommends that you do not go more than three days in row with less than 5 cycles per week as that is when we have accumulated fatigue. This approach reduces anxiety towards the idea that if “I don’t get 8 I am doing something wrong”. Example being if you get 3 cycles on a Sunday then you could get 6 on Monday as a strategy to gain those 35 cycles total. The key is to remember that these cycles are highly dependent on the individual and your chronotype (Early Riser vs. Night Owl). It was recommended to keep a sleep journal to gain feedback when optimizing your week.
Circadian Rhythms. The co-captain to sleep cycles is optimizing your circadian rhythm to your schedule. Throughout the book it refers back to our “caveman” like approach as sun up and sun down is the driver of our natural sleep schedule. With iPads, TVs, Phones, and lights causing a stir in our sun up sun down approach it is encouraged to set a constant wake time. This was stressed as one of the most powerful tools at our disposal when looking to improve the quality of our recovery. Set a constant wake time each day that fits your life’s schedule, then work backwards using 90 minute cycles we spoke about previously. (Example: 7:30am wake up every day – 5 Cycles – Go to Bed at 12:00) Our body can rely on this constant wake time, be our anchor, and then our cycles are our manageable variables due to life’s constant unexpected events.
Constant Wake Time is the Anchor
Sleep Time is Flexible à Work Backwards in 90 Minute Cycles
35 Cycles per Week – Less than 28 your Potentially Overdoing it
Broad Track of Time – One Night Won’t Kill You
Controlled Recovery Period (CRP) Every 90 Minutes During Day find a way to move and take a quick break
Journal Progress – Day/Activity/Cycles/Controlled Recovery Periods
MONDAY – Working late on presentation – 4 Cycles – 0 CRP
I recommend this book to anyone who is currently struggling with our number one way to recover as human beings. With our pillars of recovery being sleep, nutrition, hydration, and stress management; Sleep is vital as it can enhance our ability to be our best in so many ways. This book is an essential tool to improving habits, routines, and the little things that ultimately make the big differences for us. The book is from a sport background but in life no matter our situation we can be coached and be the learner. Nick Littlehales provides concise advice and tools that can be immediately implemented for great return. Coaches of athletes, teachers of students, or the entrepreneur who is pulling too many all-nighters can all improve their recovery, retention, and impact on others with this quick read sleep manual.
In regards to 8 hours for everyone and further information covered within the book… “The one-size-fits all mentality doesn’t apply to other areas of our lives”