5 ways to improve sleep & accelerate recovery

30 January 2017 Ben Cartwright sleep, recovery, football, soccer, meditation, stretching, breathing, training

Our number 1 recommended recovery tool that we advise at Football Fitness Federation is sleep!

Sleep is often an overlooked strategy as it seems quite insignificant to many players. This is far from the truth!


One of the best resources out there for the effect that sleep has on performance, mood, energy and health is ‘Lights Out’ by T.S Wiley. It gives great insight in to how powerful sleep can be and how it can impact on performance.


With that in mind we have 5 key methods for improving sleep quality:


  1. Meditate
  2. Mobility & Stretching
  3. Darken your room
  4. Remove Electronics
  5. Add Breathing exercises


Meditation doesn’t have to be sat legs crossed listening to whale music (as many people think). Meditation can simply be time taken to relax and unwind. When we train and play we utilise the sympathetic nervous system. We require our body to be fired up in order to perform, however once we finish training/games there doesn’t seem to be much done in order to utilise our para-sympathetic nervous system. This requires the body to unwind and kick start the recovery process. Many players will use activities such as long walks or walking the dog as meditation, others may use yoga or other activities to unwind.


The hours before bed are the perfect time to add mobility & flexibility exercises that players need to carry out. This may involve foam rolling trigger point therapy, massage or static stretching. Releasing tension around tight areas can help players relax and fall into better quality sleep.



The optimal sleeping environment involves your room being dark, cool and quiet. Any TVs or electronics that have standby buttons should be unplugged or taped up. Blackout blinds also help to keep the room as dark as possible, especially in the summer months. Light and noise can also be resolved by using earplugs and eye masks.



All electronics such as mobile phones, Ipads, laptops, TVs should be removed from your room. This also applies in the 30-60 minutes prior to going to bed to allow your body to switch off and unwind. There are now settings on certain phones and laptops that remove the blue light (that can keep the brain more active). This is a better option when using these devices but wouldn’t be recommended all the time.


Similarly to the use of mobility and stretching the time before bed is a perfect time to add diaphragmatic breathing exercises. Breathing exercises have been shown to increase the efficiency of gas exchange as well as reducing tightness in the neck and shoulders. The diaphragm is an underused muscle as many of us do not breathe properly. Strengthening/working the diaphragm can contribute to improvements in posture and core strength.