Niall Ronan is an ex-rugby professional who had a prolific career playing for Leinster, Munster and Ireland. Niall is a Heineken Cup winner with over 100 caps for Munster and competed for over 10 years at the very highest level in the sport. Niall won 1 Heineken Cup medal, 2 Magner League medals and has 4 Senior Irish Rugby caps with Ireland. Due to playing such a physically demanding game at the highest level for a decade, Niall must deal with old injuries, stiffness and sometimes pain, especially at night. Providing the correct level of comfort and support is crucial in getting a good nights sleep for Niall.
Analysis & Data using
the Readiband Sleep monitor.
We analysed data on sleep and activity levels
over two distinctive periods. We first assessed
sleep patterns over the course of a week
under normal circumstances. After consulting
with Ava, the team in DKI helped her choose
a mattress suitable for her specific needs. Ava
then had her sleep analysed after receiving
her new mattress and we noted any significant
changes in her patterns.
Niall Ronan Selected
Premier 5000 Mattress
for mattress details
19th March – 27th March
Average Sleep Quantity: 6.6
Sleep Quality Rating: 5/10
Sleep Latency: 55min
After Receiving Mattress
01st April – 7th April
Average Sleep Quantity: 8
Sleep Quality Rating: 8.5/10
Sleep Latency: 10min
Did Niall Ronan
Sleep Quality & Duration: Sleep quality and duration improved hugely for Niall in the space of few days. His average sleep went from 6.6 hours to nearly 8 hours once he received his new mattress. This was a 33% improvement in sleep duration. This increase allowed Niall a much better night’s sleep and waking up feeling more energised mentally and physically.
Wake Episodes: were an issue for Niall primarily due to old injuries and stiffness in his neck and back. After Niall received his new mattress, the number of wake episodes dropped by nearly 50% which made a huge difference to his overall sleep quality and ability to maintain restorative and restful sleep. Appropriate support and increased comfort meant less moving around to find relief from soreness.
Sleep Latency can quickly develop into an unwanted and frustrating habit. Niall saw big improvements in how quickly he could fall asleep. His average sleep latency time dropped by a massive 40 minutes, meaning he was falling asleep much faster and getting more quality repair time each night.
Recommendations:The improvements achieved over such a short period of time demonstrate the value in investing in a quality mattress, essentially boosting comfort and support levels to such an extent that it massively improves sleep, rest and recovery times. These improvements have given Niall new confidence in falling asleep and maintaining much better sleep. The outcome has been a reduction in pain and stiffness and an increased energy level and sharpness all around.
Pain and stiffness can disrupt our sleep patterns in many ways and inadvertently cause us to develop certain anxiety around sleep. We often underestimate the importance of the correct support and comfort levels which can tip the balance in our favour and have a powerful and positive impact on aspects of sleep architecture. Niall can continue to build on his success by ensuring he maintains correct support, good sleep hygiene and the right pillow for spinal alignment. The mattress, pillow and bed together with good habits profoundly impact quality sleep.
How did you get into rugby and more importantly, how did you manage to break into the elite level?
I grew up playing Gaelic Football most of my life and my best friend went rugby training one day and I went with him and joined that team. In the beginning I only played rugby once a week during my teenage years, but we were a very successful team and won Leinster provincial titles and All-Ireland finals. That’s when I started to get noticed, I got picked for Leinster youths, Irish youths, and then I got selected for the Irish National Academy. That was a step into the professional pathway for the IRFU.
Niall, what were the key preparations for you in getting ready for training and a matchday?
Nutrition, sleep, mobility, strength training in the gym, a focus on recovery and then obviously working on the technical and tactical aspects of the game. The mental side of preparing for the sport was really important as well so I could absorb and use what I had learned in a game scenario. This is where I know that if I had a good nights’ sleep, my memory, recall and mental sharpness in games was much better.
Did you have strategies and routines you went through and how important was it to establish these practices?
Yes, we had lots of strategies and firstly was getting a good nights’ sleep. Sleep was such a huge part of my recovery process, for rugby especially because it takes its toll on the body. Then Nutrition -my goal was to reach a certain bodyweight for my position, so I needed to eat a lot of calories on a daily basis. So, I had 5 meals a day and 2 protein shakes. Then when I slept is when the building of the muscle happened. Video analysis was also very important and training at an elite level.
How much of an impact does sleep have on how you feel and operate now on a daily basis?
It plays a huge role in my life if I don’t get good quality sleep, because I have 2 young kids and I live an active lifestyle, so I need to get my 8 hours a night because if I don’t it causes stress, and I don’t function as well as I do with a good night’s sleep.
Have you noticed a difference now since you upgraded your mattress?
Absolutely – game changer. My body is better, and my aches and pains are reducing, and I’ve slept so well since I’ve upgraded my mattress. I never would have thought that a new mattress would have such an effect and so quickly as well.
What advice would you give to aspiring athletes out there?
You have to work on the small percentages. Nutrition, recovery, mobility, in whatever sport you play, you have to be good technically. Your tactical awareness, what your coaches want, just do it and then finally the mental aspect – think positive and take on board what you’ve learnt.