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The first thing to realise about the bedding industry is that there is very little regulation.
Anyone can put the label ‘orthopaedic’ on a bed — they don’t have to be an osteopath or have put the mattress through loads of tests. The only sleeping position I recommend is on your side — it’s best for postural alignment and you’re less likely to snore and wake up yourself or a partner.
Your bedding needs to be breathable so you can stay cool under the covers. It’s not scientific, it’s psychological — fresh linen makes a bed more welcoming.
When I worked with the British cycling team, I insisted on fresh bed linen every night.
Common disorders such as snoring and sleep apnoea — in which the sufferer stops breathing repeatedly during the night and their brain’s oxygen warning light wakes them each time, can disrupt sleep significantly.
The amount of light and deep sleep we get varies from cycle to cycle, but ideally, we would spend a night in bed smoothly making the transition from one cycle to the next, in a pattern of sleep–wake–sleep–wake, gradually sleeping less deeply until waking in the morning.
Start by aiming for five cycles a night — that’s seven-and-a-half hours.
Think of your sleep as not just the time you’re actually asleep, but the 90 minutes either side of it, too, because your pre and post-sleep routines directly affect the quality of your sleep and your waking day.
If, for example, I’m planning on an 11pm bedtime, I start preparing for it at 9.30pm. I take on my last fluids for the night, so I don’t wake up thirsty.