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Better sleep Nick Littlehales, reading or not?

19 Nov, 2023
Jürgen Swinnen

Sports coach Nick Littlehales earned his spurs in sales & marketing at British sleep retailer Slumberland. Over the course of his career, this is how he came into contact with Manchester United’s sporting staff. And this at a time when the impact of sleep on peak performance was much less to not monitored. He quickly understood that while the club promoted the 3 pillars for healthy living: diet, exercise and sleep, it did not utilize the sleep pillar in particular efficiently. And gradually this man became their top advisor on this topic. He later did the same for the, now defunct, cycling team Team Sky in cycling.

Meanwhile, author of Better Sleep Nick Littlehales calls himself the sleep coach of elite athletes and promotes sleep knowledge and is the founder of his own R90 recovery program.

Sleeping Better, Nick Littlehales

Littlehales focuses primarily on people who regularly experience restless nights and want to change that. He wants to make you sleep smarter and demonstrate that you can use sleep as a performance booster.

The 7 key factors for sleep recovery

The book is conceived in 2 parts. The first part presents the 7 key factors for sleep recovery. The author refers to this as the “sleep value chain. Those elements revolve around sleep, chronotypes, sleep stages, temperature, naps, the sleep kit and the recovery room. It must be said the book reads smoothly and describes information, sometimes shared in a dry and boring way, in a way that is easy to understand. The man is convincing and very American (although British :-)) in his writing style and some elements are highlighted very sharply as a result.

The R90 method

The 2nd part of the book talks about the R90 method. In doing so, the author questions the myth of 8 hours of sleep. The assumption that a complete sleep phase consists of 90 minutes allows us to approach sleep not from the x number of hours per night but from x number of sleep stages or cycles. The author extends this fact to the number of sleep cycles per day and per week. The idea sounds logical and also creates a lot of peace in your mind. Especially if you are fixated on sleeping hours.

Our opinion?

However, a critical voice is also needed in this debate I think, because 90 minutes is an average time of a sleep cycle and with averages it is best always to be careful. Because the average, adult, Dutchman is 170.9 cm tall according to statistics. That contrasts with what you see on the streets. On average, a sleep phase takes between 90 and 120 minutes, so 5 sleep phases last as much as 7.5h to 10h. A big difference in time.

The approach taken by Littlehales places too much emphasis on the phenomenon that humans see sleep as manipulable and fit into their busy lives. Whereas each of us has a circadian rhythm, a certain biorhythmic chronotype within us, and sleep simply completes our humanity and mental functioning.

better sleep, body loves sleep
Body loves sleep

To read or not to read a book?

Read! Sure, even if you read the book with a critical eye you still get many useful tips from the book. And as said it reads surprisingly smoothly. And a man who considers proper rest at least as important as healthy eating and regular exercise really wants to give you a (small) platform. It is not a must-read and if this book is your only source of wisdom, I would personally recommend other books, however, if you enjoy reading about sleep and sleep tips then you may enjoy it.

The book’s original title is “Sleep” published by Peguin Books Ltd in London. Translated into Dutch by Nele Jacobs and published by Deltas, Belgium – Netherlands. ISBN 978-90-447-4925-0