Welcome to the #RunPainFree Podcast! In today's episode, Coach Jessica Marie Rose Leggio speaks with leading elite sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales. It sounds like a unique professional title, well, that's because he invented it! 

Nick's career spans over 20 years. He has been a true innovator in bridging the divide between sleep science and creating actionable steps that athletes can implement to improve their rest and recovery. He is also the author of the international bestselling book "Sleep: The Myth of 8 hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind."

In this episode, he shares his knowledge and techniques underpinning his R90 Technique to increase your rest and performance. If you have been basing your recovery on the adage of getting eight hours every night, this episode is going to give you something to sleep on. 

Step 1: Circadian rhythms 

The first thing you need to do to improve your sleep is developing your understanding of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. Like animals and plants, we humans (yes, it turns out we are animals after all!) also respond to changes in daylight. 

Our melatonin increases in darkness and is suppressed in daylight, whereas serotonin rises during the daytime. Melatonin is most known for its role as a sleep hormone, and serotonin is the "feel good" hormone. 

So, in the world of COVID lockdowns, make sure you get outdoors every day; it will do more for you than slamming another coffee. In the evening, getting off your phone and computer and avoiding blue light will help you sleep.  

Take away lesson.

Sleep should be considered an intrinsic part of the way you approach running. Running is intensive, and as you ramp up miles, you also need to ramp up your recovery. Performance gains won't just occur as a result of pushing harder during your training. A massive chunk of your performance relates to the way you approach to sleep and recovery. Particularly for our marathoners, if you have done a long run on the weekend, factor in having a nap afterward; you've earned it. 


00:32 ­– Introduction and biography

02:37 ­– Nick's unlikely career journey 

16:09 – How Nick developed the R90 sleep technique

19:17 – Five 90 minute cycles vs. 8 hours sleep per day

22:21 – Circadian rhythms and chronotypes

25:34 – Shortcomings of sleep products 


  • Aim to achieve five 90 minute cycles a day instead of 8 hours per night
  • Napping has a powerful effect on your recovery, memory, performance, and overall mood
  • Develop pre and post-sleep routines
  • Optimize your sleeping environment by eliminating bright light


Get an Assessment With Jessica: https://www.runpainfreenow.com.

Resources & Programs To Run Injury-Free: https://www.runpainfreeacademy.com

#RunPainFree Bootcamp: https://www.runpainfreebootcamp.com/

Get a copy of Nick Littlehale's book, Sleep: The Myth of 8 hours the power of Naps and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind: https://www.sportsleepcoach.com/collections/sleep-by-nick-littlehales/products/sleep-by-nick-littlehales.

Keep running and keep dreaming!

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