You Snooze, You Win
Posted On Jan 09, 2018
The one resource that every human being on this planet can agree that we need more of is time. In today’s fast-paced society, days slide into each other and time seems to slip away faster than ever. That loss of time often bleeds into our sleep and diminishes our quality of life.
Nick Littlehales is the leading elite sports sleep coach to some of the biggest names in the sports world. He’s taking his thirty years of experience in sleep science to give you back the time you need while gaining the quality sleep you deserve so you can dream better dreams and have the energy to live them.
Excerpted from Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind (dacapopress.com, $16)
By Nick Littlehales
Sleeping in Cycles, Hot Hours
The R90 technique is Littlehales’ tried and true process to regulate sleep schedules and get consistent quality sleep. The core tenets of the routine are outlined here:
- Establish a wake time and stick to it as that is your anchor.
- Think of sleep in ninety-minute cycles per week, not hours per day.
- The amount of sleep you get is flexible, but it is determined by counting back in ninety-minute slots from your wake time.
- Know how many cycles you need. For the average person, it’s thirty-five per week.
- Avoid three back-to-back nights of fewer cycles than your ideal.
- The goal is to achieve your ideal amount of cycles per day at least four times a week.
These tenants outline a path to achieve a deeper, healthier sleep that gives you the stamina you need to take on the day.
Redefining Naps: Activity and Recovery Harmony
Naps are a defining aspect of many different sleep schedules. From college students to overworked moms, the nap is where you restore some of that lost vitality, but naps often disrupt your natural circadian rhythms and leave your sleep schedule in tatters. Littlehale blueprints the correct way to nap and limit your consumption of harmful activity in this list:
- Think of naps as a controlled recovery period with two windows of opportunity during the day.
- The midday window (1-3 PM) is the preferred way to supplement your nocturnal cycles if you have need
- An early evening window (5-7 PM) is the next best opportunity for recovery, but limit this one to thirty minutes so it won’t affect your sleep.
- If you can’t sleep during the day, spend thirty minutes switching off from technology and the world.
- Take breaks at least every ninety minutes to refresh your mind and concentration levels. Avoid technology during these breaks so as to not spend ninety consecutive minutes connected.
- Get rid of the preconceived notion of naps as being for lazy people and create a culture where rest is valued as much as work.
- Use meditation apps, mindfulness techniques, or hold an item of personal value to slip away from your immediate environment.
- If you can’t get away, manipulate your schedule so that it’s lighter during the mid-afternoon slump.
Breaks from activity help the mind recover and perceive the events that just happened. They’re essential to a functioning person and need to be treated as such.
Sex, Partners, and the Modern Family
Life hardly ever works out the way you plan it too. You have kids, find new jobs, and sleep with different people, but that doesn’t mean your rest should suffer. Knowing the steps and your body should allow you to adapt your schedule to whatever life throws at you. These steps should help with that:
- Your bed is for sleep first, and sex a close second. The first connection your brain makes with your bed should be sleep.
- Don’t confine your sex life to the bed. Be fresh and exciting to keep your relationships thriving.
- Sleeping with a partner will most likely disturb your own sleep schedule. Try to match up habits and schedule so that neither of you disturbs the other.
- Before an event that requires that you get the most rest possible, take your partner out of the equation. Sleep in the guest room or on a temporary bed, so that you’re focusing on yourself.
- For new parents, adopt an adaptable R90 schedule. Keep track of your sleep cycles, focus more on naps, work together with your partner, and don’t worry about not sticking to your plan all the time. It gets easier when they’re older.
- Children don’t fit into the R90 system and they just need as much undisturbed sleep as possible.
- A college student should find a schedule that works for them as early as possible. Eliminating technology thirty minutes before sleep will cut down the junk sleep that is pervasive to young adults.
No matter what your job is or how big your family is, you should get the sleep you need to be the best possible version of yourself. That monster that crawls out of bed after two hours of sleep isn’t you. We only have so much time on our hands, isn’t it better to spend that time as someone with the energy and drive to follow through on their dreams?
Excerpted from Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind by Nick Littlehales. Copyright © 2018 Da Capo Lifelong Books. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Healthy SleepNick LittlehalesSleep sports coachSleep: The Myth of 8 HoursSleep: The Myth of 8 Hours the Power of Naps and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind