Sleep like an Olympian with these 4 expert-approved tips

 A woman sleeping on her side wearing a blue sleep mask.
A woman sleeping on her side wearing a blue sleep mask.

If I had to get sleep advice from anyone, I’d probably ask an Olympian. Professional athletes spend hours a day training to be in the best possible shape for their next event. In order to avoid injuries, rest the body and relax after a long day of training, sleep and recovery is an important part of an athletes’ training schedule, proving that sleep should be at the top of everyone’s priority list.

Investing in the best mattress and improving your sleep hygiene can have an amazing effect on your sleep. But even if you stick to a strict sleep schedule, external factors can disrupt you, like excess noise and the shifting seasons.

To find out how best to optimise your sleep and work around seasonal changes, I spoke to Dr Luke Gupta, Performance Innovation Consultant, Olympian Sleep Expert and Circadian Scientist at the UK Sports Institute. Dr Gupta has worked with athletes on their sleep schedules and recently announced a partnership with Dreams, the sponsor and official sleep partner of Team GB and Paralympics GB.

Inspired by his work with Olympians and ahead of the upcoming clock change, Dr Gupta shared his four step ‘MOT’ sleep guide to transform your nighttime routine, enhance cognitive function and boost energy levels.

1. Define your ‘good sleep’

The first step in Dr Gupta’s Olympian-approved sleep guide is to define what good sleep means to you and how your current sleep schedule is measuring up with your goals. “Take a moment to reflect on your recent sleep experiences and identify any emerging patterns in the last few weeks,” explains Dr Gupta. “Look at the factors you think might be positively or negatively affecting your sleep, considering things such as bedtime routines, environment, and stressors.”

2. Uncover sleep vulnerabilities

Once you’ve reviewed your past sleep experiences, Dr Gupta recommends noting any patterns and triggers affecting your sleep quality to uncover your vulnerabilities. Using the best sleep tracker or “maintaining a sleep journal can help you monitor nightly routines, including bedtime habits, environment, and stress levels. Note recurring disturbances like caffeine intake and consider emotional factors such as anxiety or mood changes. By pinpointing patterns and triggers, you can develop strategies to address these vulnerabilities and improve your sleep quality.”

woman sleeping
woman sleeping

3. Embrace the dimensions of sleep

Sleep is so much more than just getting into bed, closing your eyes and waking up in the morning. There are five sleep stages you cycle through every night, and Dr Gupta emphasises the importance of recognising that sleep is multidimensional. He says “factors such as duration, regularity, timing, and satisfaction all contribute to overall sleep health. Avoid prioritising one over the other – sleeping well for three hours doesn’t necessarily mean healthy sleep, nor does sleeping for 10 hours if you wake up feeling unrefreshed.”

4. Create your ideal sleep space

Once you’ve identified your idea of good sleep and found your vulnerabilities, it's time to create your ideal sleep space. The ‘perfect’ sleep environment is unique to each person, so to find what works for you, Dr Gupta suggests “assessing your sleep space for familiarity, calmness, comfort, safety, lighting, noise control and temperature regulation. Tailoring your sleep environment to your needs is key for ensuring a restful night’s sleep.” For example, if you prefer a dark room and listening to music to help you fall asleep, you might want to consider adding blackout blinds or the best sleep headphones to your environment to set yourself up for sleep success.

Want more sleep advice? Check out these 27 sleep tips for a better night’s rest.