Recovery Tips from Nick Littlehales

How to sleep like a pro footballer

Text: Robert Sperl
Photo: Getty Images

Nick Littlehales has trained football teams such as Real Madrid and Manchester United to sleep right. Here are three simple tips for the perfect recovery

Napping has a bad reputation, which is unsubstantiated, says Littlehales. Before the light bulb was invented people would sleep a shorter period at night, but also around noon or early evening. Hence he recommends controlled recovery periods between 1-3pm and again between 5-7pm. Tip: drink an espresso before you nap. Its effect only kicks in after 20 minutes and it’ll give you an energy boost when you wake up.

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For the sleep coach, there is only one proper position to sleep in and that’s on the side opposite the hand you write with. “The reason goes back to our primeval instincts. I’m right-handed, so if I sleep on my left side, I’m better able to protect myself in case of a surprise attack.” The position signals to your brain that you’re safe and helps you enter the sleep phase.


What should you do if you’re a top sportsperson and can’t sleep the night before a big game? Littlehales’ tip is surprising: don’t sleep. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Meditate. He also tells his athletes to watch footage of their great achievements, anything that relaxes them, because you can regenerate even when semi-conscious and still produce your best. But, he stresses, it’s important to catch up on any missed sleep as soon as you can.

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04 2017 The Red Bulletin

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