Ronaldo sleeping illustration ()Ronaldo sleeping illustration () © Copyright

Ronaldo reveals how he sleeps his way to glory

We flew to Madrid to see how Cristiano Ronaldo trains, eats and sleeps. Here's what Ronaldo and his sleep coach had to say about how the pros catch their Zs, and it's a little unusual.

CR7 says:

“I try to sleep nine or ten hours every day,” says Ronaldo, who later says this is one of the more curious interviews he’s ever done. “I’ve realised the condition this creates is much better on the pitch, and the difference in training is big. I’m 31 and I know my body well; I know how it responds.

"It changes the whole time, but right now, I feel like I know my own body pretty much 100 per cent. I know when I should push it, and when to rest. It takes real discipline, because sometimes I will have two games in a week, and being fresh for two games is hard to balance.

Ronaldo sitting on the pitch ()


"It’s easier for me, because I don’t have to go shopping or go to discotheques. I just take care of my body, which sometimes means my life day-to-day isn’t that wonderful.”

“The difference is with age. I think a lot of the younger players do not take things as seriously as the older ones. But that’s normal. When you’re young, you make mistakes and your body recovers faster. If you go out, don’t sleep and show up at training, you can do better than that the guy who’s older and who’s slept all night – that’s because you’re young. But the older you get, the more you need to rest and recover. If you don’t, you can’t have a career at the top for many, many years.”

Ronaldo's sleep guru – Nick Littlehales

Nick Littlehales is a sleep expert who has worked with some of the world’s best sportspeople, including Ronaldo.

“If you’re playing for Real Madrid, you’ve got to be able play at midday or at midnight,” says Littlehales. “You have to train daily and handle all the aspects of the modern world like social media, money and fame.

Ronaldo Celebrating and flexing muscles ()


“Instead of thinking about eight or nine hours a night, Ronaldo needs 90-minute cycles, and around 35 of those cycles in a seven-day period. Normal people can have a monophasic approach to sleeping, that is: sleeping at night. Ronaldo must adopt a polyphasic approach. He has to get around eight hours of sleep, but he has to be flexible: it might be in the day or it might be at three in the morning after a late game. It’s very inconsistent.

“The staff at Madrid run through his schedule, looking for windows where he can sleep and recover. They’ll create a schedule that allows Ronaldo to get the amount of cycles he needs in a controlled way. He might not sleep the night before a game because of the adrenaline. Instead, he’ll sleep when he can, for long as he can. If he’s got an afternoon off, he might go home and sleep, but he’ll set an alarm so that his sleep falls within the 90 minute cycles and he gets the full benefit.”

Illustrations: Matthew Hollings
Images: Getty



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