In our latest podcast, Mammoth Founder John Tuton chats to England & Exeter Chiefs centre Ollie Devoto about the realities of managing sleep and recovery time as a professional rugby player.
JP: Just how important is good sleep for a rugby player?
OD: It is absolutely vital. I think the way I look at it, you spend pretty much half your life in your bed. So, it’s extremely important and I think for me, if I don’t get the seven and a half – eight hours’ sleep, it does have an effect on your training for sure. Yeah, I think it’s extremely important and where I struggle the most is, you know, after games. So, you know, that Saturday night after games is where I’d say that I struggle the most.
JP: Sort of, too charged up? Is that what you meant there?
OD: Yeah, it is. I think the caffeine doesn’t help. And certainly, my caffeine intake before I don’t do it during the week and then when it comes to game day, you know and I’ve got into routine now where I need that caffeine before I go and play. And it’s interesting because sometimes when you’re on the bench or say you don’t play as long, you know, you only play a half or 60 minutes. That’s when you struggle the most because you’ve not had the physical, you know, game time. And night games are awful as well because, you’re playing at half seven, you don’t get in till half nine – ten o’clock and then it’s, you know, you’re straight to bed and you’ve just played the game of rugby. So, that’s for me is probably where I struggle the most in getting a good night’s sleep.
JP: Yeah, it’s not enough time. And we discussed this on our last podcast with Dr. Barclay, certainly from my own old training days when I was really competing, whether it was rugby or athletics, we talked about sometimes that, you know, that night-time training you need a cut off really at seven o’clock. So, if you guys aren’t kicking off till seven thirty and have the intensity of a match, it’s absolutely no surprise that that can really disrupt your evening sleep, arguably at a time where you need it the most.
So, how does that knock on to the following day then? And what’s your, if you like, contingency to deal with that the following day, given that you might not have slept well after the match?
OD: For me, we usually have a day off the day after a game, which is great. But I tend to do all my recovery. So, for me, it’s using soft tissue guns and foam rolling and just keeping active that way in the morning. But then for me, getting a nap midday is the key because I wake up at the same time as I usually do, having not had much sleep, and when it comes to about one – two o’clock in the afternoon. I think if I can just get away just for 20 minutes, it sort of stands me in good stead for the afternoon then. And then you get a good night’s sleep that following night.