As footballers return from their pre-season break many of them have had to stick to a rigorous nutrition and exercise plan. But what about the other building block of excellence at the elite level, sleep? How many footballers had a sleep plan during the off season? Not many I would guess. Is this because they don’t really have a sleep plan during the season either?

It is recognised that sleep is one of the most effective recovery tools that coaches have for their players. Many sports teams boast about taking sleep seriously but for most this involves someone supplying the same mattress to the entire squad and general advice around sleep. For optimum performance all sports people should have an individual sleep environment analysis, their own personal sleep profile should be taken into account and the amount of sleep they actually need should be tracked. Their sleep environment should be just right for them and whoever they share their room with. Many players also need support ensuring their kids sleep. If a player has a baby during the season they should have support from a baby sleep specialist to help baby, mum and dad sleep well!

Each player should then have a sleep training schedule that takes into account what time games will be played. For example to get players through night games they are given strong caffeine tablets that can affect their sleep for the night after the game and even one or two nights after. Having the right experts as part of a team’s coaching staff ensures sleep is considered when designing a player’s schedule.

Working with a professional team, including a sleep environment expert, a CBT-I expert and a Chrono biologist can help teams gain an advantage over the competition.

Sleep and sport is a new area of sleep support and professional teams need to ensure they have a team working with them that takes a well-rounded scientific approach. The 3 R’s apply to sports people as much as anyone else.

A ROUTINE that works for their sleep type and their match schedule.

A RESTFUL ENVIRONMENT that is right for their, and their partners, sleep profile.

And feeling RELAXED. The temperature, light levels and noise levels are right; and their minds are free from the worries of the day.

Want to know more about how I can help sprots teams and people sleep better? drop me an e-mail to