The Under-16s, Under-18s and Under-23s of Norwich City Academy all participated in a sleep coaching seminar with world-renowned sleep coach Nick Littlehales last week.
Working in the industry for over 20 years, Littlehales has worked with top-level athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as teams in the NBA, NFL and NHL over in the United States.
Founder of the R90 technique, which helps athletes break their rest down into key sleep recovery indicators (KSRIs), Littlehales gave each of the three age groups an insightful online presentation over a two-day period.
Addressing each of the seven KSRIs as separate units, Littlehales gave the young players advice and the information they need to better optimise their recovery periods throughout the night.
As usual, the players then had time at the end of the presentation to have any of their questions on recovery answered by the sleep coach.
Speaking on the importance of sleep’s relationship with recovery, Littlehales said it is often ‘taken for granted’, despite it being a necessity in the sport.
“As humans have continued to move further away from this process, key to how we function on every level, it has become ever more challenging to recover effectively. Taken for granted has been the mantra.
“However, as we continue to create almost non-human schedules through behavioural change driven by our belief, we can push the boundaries as far as we like, it has become increasingly clear through further technological research advancement that sleep is our key human success factor.”
Asked on the importance of sleep in football for the academy players, Littlehales made it clear that it’s not just tiredness that a lack of sleep can have an effect on, saying it’s key to maintaining both mental and physical performance on the pitch too.
“Because sleep is still taken for granted, we have no real gauge on how it affects our every day and or longer-term performance.
“Never mind how well we sleep; we still crack on being active and eventually become tired and need to fall asleep.
“This mindset has to change because we now know that sleeping has very little to do with overcoming tiredness, it is a fundamental process to allow our brain and all of its functions to repair and reset.
“Therefore, a redefined sleep recovery approach will reveal more consistent and sustainable levels of mental and physical performance, every day, every season and longer-term."