I'm A Derm & Psychiatrist: My Sleep Routine For Mental Health & Skin Health
I love to sleep, and I am acutely aware of the importance of seven and a half to eight hours a night. I have my best sleep when I go to bed earlier, don't eat too late, and don't go to bed stressed out. I am not much of an alcohol drinker, and I often go months without a drink because if I have more than a glass of wine, my sleep is horrible. It's just not worth it to me.
On the stress front, I learned a great pre-sleep relaxation technique from a counselor at a sleepaway camp back when I was 12 (yes, really!). She taught us to contract each muscle in our body fully, then relax it, starting at our heads and working down. This methodical tightening and relaxing always helps me, and I remember teaching it to my kids when they were younger.
As a dermatologist and psychiatrist, I know that we heal in our sleep when our cortisol is at its lowest. Here's a peek at how I get into this restful state.
- Average hours I sleep a night: 7½ to 8
- Ideal bedtime: 10:30 p.m.
- Ideal wake-up time: 7 a.m.
- Nightstand essentials: Lip balm, novel, phone chargers, old-fashioned alarm clock
- Favorite place I've ever slept: I do love my Afloat waterbed, but my favorite place I have ever slept was at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
- Sleep bad habit: Sometimes I stay on my phone too late
- Caffeine consumption: Tea only: black tea in the morning, green in the afternoon
- How I track my sleep: I've tried sleeping with rings or watches, etc., but didn't like it.
- The last product or habit that changed my sleep for the better: Reminding myself to read a few pages of a novel before bed—this always helps turn my brain off.
- The first thing I do when I wake up: Say good morning to my cat, Chouquette, then play Wordle and the NYT mini crossword.
6:45 - 7 a.m.: I wake up naturally. I always set my old-fashioned alarm clock, but I can't remember the last time it woke me up. (I think that both my medical training and being a mom trained me to get up without an alarm!) I check overnight texts and emails, play Wordle, and start the NYT mini-crossword and Spelling Bee.
7:15 a.m.: I shower, then eat breakfast. Usually, it's tea with local Andrew's Honey, yogurt with a little matcha powder mixed in, and fruit. I have always loved green tea, and there are so many benefits to its antioxidants; plus, I love the flavor! The honey is from NYC, and I find it has some benefits for my seasonal allergies.
8:30 a.m.: I walk to the office. I am lucky to be able to walk to and from work. I call it my "walking meditation," and getting light in the morning helps support my sleep at night. I use it as a quiet time—no music or podcasts—to look up at the sky and trees and also at architecture, local shops, etc.
9:45 p.m.: By this time, I'm hopefully finished with work for the day. I am working full-time and getting an MBA, so late nights are not uncommon, but I try to prioritize time to wind down before sleep. Sometimes, this will involve watching a show with my daughter. We recently watched The Great, and we are waiting for the next season of The Great British Bake Off.
10:15 p.m.: Time for my nightly skin care. It's pretty simple: I remove any eye makeup with Neutrogena Oil Free Makeup Remover, wash my face with Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, and moisturize with Chanel La Solution 10. Once or twice a week, I apply prescription tretinoin 0.025% cream, then moisturize.
10:15 - 11 p.m.: Lights dim, in bed. I love my Afloat water bed and Tempurpedic neck pillow. I have super-soft James Perse, Sferra, and Schweitzer sheets and duvets. I have sensitive skin and care a lot about texture, so my sheets are 100% cotton. My cat Chou Chou joins me, and I may play a game on my phone, send a last text, watch the Yankees a little, or read a few pages.
One of only a small handful of physicians in the country board-certified in both dermatology and psychiatry, Dr. Amy Wechsler adds another dimension to dermatology by evaluating the skin holistically.
As the creator of the “stress aging” theory, Dr. Wechsler published “The Mind-Beauty Connection” in 2008 based on the fundamental connection between the mind and body. Using the latest technologies and techniques, she treats a wide range of dermatologic conditions with personalized solutions, beginning with a careful evaluation of the patient’s psychological stressors and skin care concerns.
In addition to her busy Upper East Side practice serves as an advisor for Chanel Skin Care and go-to expert for top media outlets. She is also a full-time MBA student and a mom of two.