Topical Magnesium is a Wonder Potion for Restless Sportspeople Such as GB’s Sam Miller

Wa king up feeling well rested is something we all dream about but, amazingly, only six per cent of Brits achieve the recommended eight hours of shut-eye each night. Not only is this bad news for your health it’s also detrimental to your fitness. Why? Because quality snoozing time has been shown to improve recovery speed and increase energy levels. Research from Stanford University, in the US, reveals that swimmers who clocked 10 hours of sleep a night for six to seven weeks swam faster and turned quicker, while tennis players who snoozed the same amount improved their sprint times and serve accuracy.

Topical Magnesium is a Wonder Potion for Restless Sportspeople Such as GB’s Sam Miller Photo Gallery

It’s no surprise, then, that top athletes claim to gain a competitive edge by boosting the quality of their sleep. Indeed, Serena Williams reports going to bed at 7pm each night, hitting the hay on a Tempur mattress that is said to relieve pressure points. Other pro athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Team Sky cyclists take sleep so seriously that they hired a ‘sleep coach’. Ready for an unbelievable night of rest? Try these expert tips loved by the elites and become a super-sleeper.

1 Buy a good mattress… From sleeping with pregnancy pillows (when not pregnant) to lying down on a pressure-relieving mattress, many athletes claim that the right bedding is a game- changer. According to bed manufacturer Sealy UK (, an unsupportive mattress can exacerbate joint, spine and ligament issues, so find one that works for you.

2 and a weighted blanket Reported to speed up athletic recovery, weighted blankets provide a firm pressure that encourages the body to relax completely. ‘Weighted blankets weigh you down to prevent tossing and turning,’ explains Nick Davies, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist (, ‘It hugs enough to feel like a warm embrace that produces the love hormone oxytocin, while reducing stress hormone cortisol.’

3 Get more magnesium The mineral magnesium stimulates gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels in the brain – and when GABA levels are low, it can be difficult to drift off. Topical magnesium such as BetterYou’s Magnesium Sleep Lotion (£9.95 for 180g, is a wonder potion for restless sportspeople such as GB sprinter Sam Miller: ‘On nights when my muscles are particularly sore, I love to unwind in a bath with magnesium flakes. The combination of the warm water and relaxing magnesium chloride sets me up for a deep sleep.’

4 Download an app Meditation has been around for centuries, but increasingly athletes such as diver Tom Daley are using apps such as Headspace ( to boost performance – and rumour has it some do this before bedtime, too. ‘Sleep is not always something we can simply “do”, especially at times of stress,’ explains Dr Liron Jacobson, neuroscientist for sleep app Rise (, ‘So, many athletes use mindfulness meditation to help them feel the benefits of a great night’s sleep.’

5 Destress with yoga Jess Ennis-Hill, Andy Murray, Lizzy Yarnold… for years, athletes have sworn by practising yoga to help them destress and relax. Now, research by Harvard University, in the US, shows that eight weeks of yoga practice can help people fall asleep more easily – think both faster and better. ‘Yoga helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, so you enter a restful state for a good night’s sleep,’ explains Dylan Ayaloo, international yoga teacher ( His top bedtime poses? Legs-up-the-wall, reclined spinal twist and child’s pose.

6 Let there be light Wake up to simulated sunlight. To help modulate their sleep/wake cycles, many athletes such as triathlete Lucy Gossage use light therapy clocks, which emit a bright light before wake-up to help kickstart circadian rhythms. Lumie lights ( are used by British Swimming athletes and Cambridge University’s women rowers, of whom 80 per cent have reported a positive impact on their performance.

7 Float off If all else fails, invest in a sleep-inducing treatment. The likes of Wayne Rooney swear by floatation therapy (floating in an isolation tank filled with water and Epsom salts) to alleviate stress and increase feelings of relaxation. ‘A number of athletes use floatation tanks as part of their regime because it facilitates rest and reduces muscle soreness,’ explains Daniel Percival, director at 3Tribes ( in London, which offers the method.

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