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How Mindfulness & Breathwork Teacher Zee Clarke Winds Down

Zee Clarke
Author:
December 28, 2022
Zee Clarke
Mindfulness & Breathwork Coach
By Zee Clarke
Mindfulness & Breathwork Coach
Zee Clarke is a Harvard MBA and author of Black People Breathe (March 14, 2023 / Penguin Random House). She went from leading teams at Fortune 500 companies and startups in Silicon Valley to teaching mindfulness, breathwork, and racial healing to People of Color.
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Image by Terry Magallanes / Pexels
December 28, 2022
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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 mindfulness and breathwork teacher Zee Clarke, who has a menu of mindful wind-down rituals to choose from each night.
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Sleep used to be a huge struggle for me. I couldn't quiet my mind, as I thought about endless to-do lists, problems I needed to solve, and people that I needed to support. On top of the stresses of everyday life, experiences of racism exacerbated my sleep issues as I have many times been worried about my personal safety. 

I would either have trouble falling asleep, or I would wake up at 2 a.m. and watch the clock for hours. I would then be cranky, tired, and unproductive the next morning at work. I was stressed for most of the day, and my anxiety was through the roof. After work, it wasn't unusual for me to have a couple of drinks to let off some steam, and then the cycle repeated itself. Years of this led to burnout and the deterioration of my mental and physical health. 

Thankfully, today is a new day, and I decided to be proactive about my own well-being. I sleep so soundly these days and it's because I made some big changes to my lifestyle. Morning meditation and journaling, gratitude, and breathwork practices before bed, much less alcohol, a more regular sleep schedule, aromatherapy, and sound healing have all been instrumental.

When I feel better, I sleep better. When I sleep better, I feel better. So I do everything I can to support my feeling amazing, and it becomes a beautiful cycle. I find that I am much more creative, productive, and empathetic when I live in this way.

sleep stats written over line gradient
  • Average hours I sleep a night: 8
  • Ideal bedtime: 10:30 p.m.
  • Ideal wake-up time: 6:30 to 7 a.m.
  • Nightstand essentials: Essential oil diffuser, journal, rotating inspirational books, mala
  • Favorite place I've ever slept: My own bed! After lots of traveling, it's perfect every time
  • Sleep bad habit: Screen time too close to bedtime
  • Caffeine consumption: Daily green tea, a coffee every few weeks
  • How I track my sleep: I just judge based on how I feel
  • The last product or habit that changed my sleep for the better: Removing my phone from the bedroom and getting an alarm clock
my sleep routine written over gradient
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8 p.m.: It's a Tuesday night, and I'm in total relaxation mode. My devices are all in do-not-disturb mode.

8:15 p.m.: I choose my wind-down activity for the evening based on where my intuition leads me. Sometimes it's a restorative or yin yoga class either from YouTube or Glo. Sometimes it's a sound bath, either one of my Tibetan singing bowls like this one, or a Spotify playlist. Sometimes it's watching some TV, either comedy or something inspirational.

9 p.m.: I get everything set up so I can take a nice juicy bath, with candles, bath bombs, and peaceful meditation music.

9:45 p.m.: I brush my teeth, and when I'm done, I look myself in the eye in the mirror and say, "I love you!"

9:50 p.m.: I plug my phone into an outlet in my bathroom, far, far away from my bed. It's automatically scheduled to be on sleep mode during my sleeping hours.

9:51 p.m.: I turn on my essential oil diffuser, usually choosing lavender for a sense of calm.

9:53 p.m.: I turn on a sleep playlist and tell Alexa to set a sleep timer for 30 minutes so the music stops automatically at that time.

9:55 p.m.: I slide into bed with my weighted blanket, which has been a game-changer for my sleep.

9:57 p.m.: I open my journal and write down three things I'm grateful for.

10:02 p.m.: I do a 3-minute breathing practice like this one to calm my nervous system and stop any anxious chatter in my mind.

10:05 a.m.: I choose one of the books on rotation on my nightstand and turn off the night light when my eyes start to get heavy. Books currently on my nightstand include Rest Is Resistance (Tricia Hersey), Black Futures (Kimberly Drew, Jenna Wortham), Inner Engineering, A Yogi's Guide to Joy (Sadghuru), and Undrowned, Black Feminist Lessons From Marine Mammals (Alexis Paulijne Gumbs).

6:24 a.m.: My body naturally wakes up without an alarm clock, but in the rare cases this doesn't happen, my sunrise alarm clock wakes me up with a soft light that grows in brightness along with the sounds of birds chirping. I then get up and do my morning meditation and journaling.

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Zee Clarke
Zee Clarke
Mindfulness & Breathwork Coach

Zee Clarke is a Harvard MBA and author of Black People Breathe (March 14, 2023 / Penguin Random House). She went from leading teams at Fortune 500 companies and startups in Silicon Valley to teaching mindfulness, breathwork, and racial healing to People of Color.