“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While the phrase coined by Benjamin Franklin dates back to his book series, Poor Richard’s Almanack, in 1735, it still sums up how many people think about sleep today. The typical recommendation from doctors is that adults get about eight hours per night and follow a regular sleep schedule, laying down and waking up at consistent times each day.
Renowned sleep coach Nick Littlehales, who has been working in the field of sleep for more than 30 years with top sports teams, including the soccer stars of Manchester United and Real Madrid, recognizes those rigid recommendations leave a lot of people out, especially folks in sleep-deprived professions, like pilots and nurses. Which is why Littlehales has developed a different approach to bedtime. Rather than track hours, he and his athletes focus on cycles. This innovative take on sleep, which is based on what happens within your body when you’re conked out, might just help you feel more well-rested, too.
The Sleep Cycle, Explained
First, a quick biology lesson: When you’re asleep, you progress through five distinct stages, where your body and brain behave differently in each.
Stage 1 is called light sleep. This is when your eye movement and muscle activity slow down. If you’ve ever felt an arm or a leg suddenly jerk or twitch…