How A Dream Reader Hacks Her Bedtime Routine For Helpful, Memorable Dreams
Our new sleep series, The Wind Down, provides a minute-by-minute peek into the wind-down routines that get well-being experts ready for bed. Today, we're relaxing with author and dream interpreter Athena Laz, who goes by the motto "If you sleep well, you can dream well."
As someone who works with dreams, I approach sleep in a very special way. I know that we can enter into the dream world lucidly, and by doing so we can benefit in many ways. I believe that lucid dreaming can help us resolve our inner obstacles, cultivate meta-awareness, meet guides, and receive universal guidance. So I make sure to approach sleep well by first cultivating a very calming and inviting sleep environment.
My husband and I switch off our cellphones every night at 8 p.m., and we don't take any tech into our bedroom, so we don't experience any blue light or random doomscrolling. On nights when I practice lucid dreaming (which you can learn about in my book The Alchemy of Your Dreams!), I make sure to practice a body scan awareness meditation and waking-day mindfulness practices that can help one to achieve lucidity.
When I used to struggle to fall asleep, I realized it was usually because I was reading a book in bed. I find that books keep me up and thinking, so now I read in any room besides my bedroom. I have found that I have my best night's sleep when I limit caffeine in the day, don't eat past 7 p.m., and really focus on mindful relaxation at night, as opposed to just crashing into my bed and trying to fall asleep.
- Average hours I sleep a night: 8 hours a night
- Ideal bedtime: 10 p.m.-ish
- Ideal wake-up time: 6 to 6:30 a.m. I relish the silence and sacredness that accompanies early mornings.
- Nightstand essentials: I absolutely love my mindbodygreen dream mist, my Deliberate Dreamer's dream journal and pen (for quick recording in the morning), and my favorite body lotions.
- Favorite place I've ever slept: My favorite place so far has been in the desert in Israel, but I'm really looking forward to trying out the Hastens Sleep Spa soon!
- Sleep bad habit: I can be a sucker for watching movies until 2 a.m., so I only do this as an indulgence when I feel I need it!
- Caffeine consumption: I love coffee, so I make sure to stick to only two cups and never have coffee after 10 a.m.
- How I track my sleep: I don't track my sleep as of yet, but I like the idea of the Oura ring.
- The last product or habit that changed my sleep for the better: As a dream teacher, I practice deep relaxation before bed through Yoga Nidra and Lucid Dream Techniques (WILD), which are mindfulness-focused. Our dreams offer us incredible guidance and spiritual solutions, but in order to receive that wisdom, we have to be able to sleep well. If you sleep well, you can dream well. So I practice what I teach by making sure that my sleep is sacred and replenishing for both my body and spirit.
8:30 p.m.: It’s a Wednesday night and I’m starting to get into a wind-down. Wednesdays are one of the days that I practice Yoga Nidra, so when I’m done, I close up my house and make sure everything is prepped for the morning.
9:10 p.m.: I have a hot bath or shower to add to the relaxation process. (I usually pour in magnesium bath flakes to add to the experience!)
9:35 p.m.: I check that my dream journal is on my nightstand, and I pour a fresh glass of water that I take to bed with me.
10 p.m.: I love my Hatch alarm and so I set it for when we need it.
10:15 p.m.: Then I just relax and let sleep take over me, usually snuggling with my husband!
6:15 a.m.: I wake up with the light in my bedroom, and I usually immediately journal what I remember from my dreams. I then make myself a cup of coffee and start my gratitude and intention practice for the day.
Athena Laz is a leading voice on modern spirituality, specializing in the intersection of psychology and mysticism. She is the author of The Alchemy of Your Dreams: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Lucid Dreaming and The Deliberate Dreamer’s Journal.
Originally hailing from South Africa, Laz has degrees through the University of Witwatersrand and is a licensed psychologist through HPCSA. Her work has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine and the South African Journal of Psychology.