Better Sleep Case Study: Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Wasps and All Blacks Rugby Player

Wasps Prop, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen plays in one of the most combative positions on the rugby pitch. We caught up with the Premiership rugby player to talk sport, recovery and dealing with the “new normal”.

Having played rugby at the highest level with the Hurricanes, All Blacks and, more recently, Premiership side Wasps, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen understands the physical demands of professional rugby as well as anyone.

Asked how he’s handled the ongoing disruption to the regular rugby season and the restrictions of lockdown, Jeffery says,

“The last few months have definitely been quite different. No one could have seen the Pandemic coming, but you learn to adapt and adjust. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed the time to stop and reflect. Then as we came back together at Wasps we had a good opportunity to focus on ourselves as a team without any outside pressures.”

Having spent several months away from the rugby pitch during lockdown, Jeffery explains that keeping physically and mentally prepared was essential for dealing with the uncertainty of how and when matches would resume. He says,

“Obviously keeping to a strict training schedule and staying fit is important when play isn’t possible. The last thing I wanted to do was add ‘Covid bod’ to my resume, and I knew that we might find ourselves back in training at relatively short notice.”

“But aside from rugby I found it important to be able to stay calm and not look too far ahead. Mentally, I wanted to make sure I was present with my wife and son rather than keep one eye constantly on the return to rugby. Outside of fitness work I found it helpful to read a little bit to keep mentally healthy and ensure I was growing in other areas of my life.  Although not able to meet as a congregation I enjoyed being able to keep in touch and be involved with my church and online bible study groups. That really helped me massively, especially during the period where it was impossible to catch up and socialise with people in person.”

Having played rugby from the age of 7 years old in New Zealand, what started as having a kick about with friends has gone on to become a successful career for Jeffery – one he refers to as fun, challenging and exciting. But asked about his finest achievement, he prefers to look outside of sport:

“Becoming a husband and then a dad would definitely be the proudest moments in my life.”

Despite being at the coalface of the scrum in one of the most attritional positions on the pitch, Jeffery’s training is suited to his role as a more mobile tighthead prop. Asked to outline his typical training regime and he says,

“Away from skills training on the pitch there is obviously quite a bit of time spent in the gym and I do a lot of cardio. Personally, I like to do HIIT training and interval training to mix weights work with cardiovascular exercise. I’ve never been a massive weightlifter, so I have been able to develop this over my career.  I like to keep working on my biggest asset which is probably my fitness as a prop. The older I get the more challenging it is to maintain those levels – but I enjoy the challenge.”

Injuries are, unfortunately, never far away in professional rugby today as the game becomes increasingly physical. Asked to reflect on his own injuries over the years, Jeffery says,

“I’ve probably had too many injuries to list, it comes with the game! My work requires a lot from my body so you’re always going to get a few bumps and bruises in my industry. Nowadays I have to do quite a bit of rehab work to look after my sore knees.”

In such a strenuous line of work, Jeffery says that he places real emphasis on his rest and recovery time, which is the “ultimate” in keeping his body and mind in shape for playing sport. A crucial part of that is sleep, which is why he elected to invest in a Mammoth mattress.

“I aim for 8 – 10 hours sleep a night to make sure I wake up feeling fresh. If I’m stuck on a good Netflix series it can throw my routine out but I try to put aside plenty of time for rest. I’m generally a good sleeper: out like a light when my head hits the pillow and I’m a pretty deep sleeper.

“It’s really noticeable when I haven’t had my rest. I get fatigued at training so much quicker and my brain just isn’t as switched on as it should be. My body is pretty tight after every game and feels like I have been hit by a truck waking up the next morning but since getting my Mammoth; it has helped to take the pressure off whilst sleeping, It’s a real game changer!  Good quality sleep is so important, it’s a top priority and is definitely the best way to recover.

“I like my sleep environment to be dark and cool. I often have a cool shower before bed, brush my teeth, then it’s lights out. And, of course, the Mammoth mattress makes a real difference. My wife and I opted for a Superking medium/firm mattress and it just gives us the best sleep – it’s amazing. It’s just the right tension for our tastes and works wonders for the body. I feel refreshed every morning and to be honest it’s hard to get out of bed some mornings because it’s so comfortable.  When our son creeps into our bed and we try to move him back to his own, he says “No I’m comfortable in your bed” I don’t blame him and I think we need to look at getting him a Mammoth, too”

Explore the Mammoth range to find the right mattress for you here.