The Nightly Routine That Keeps Lindsey Vonn Well Rested
When I was a kid, I could fall asleep pretty much anytime, anywhere. But when I had my first knee surgery in 2013, I started not sleeping because of the pain and anxiety of needing to sleep in order to recover faster. I was also trying to make it back to the Olympics in a really short period of time and it was hard to turn my brain off. I had multiple surgeries over the next few years, which only exacerbated the problem.
I got down this really bad downward spiral of not sleeping. There was so much pressure on me to perform at that time. And obviously, you can't perform when your mind is not clear and focused.
I tried a lot of things to help me sleep and nothing really worked. It's hard because I feel like when you're successful as an athlete, people don't want to hear you complain. So I really didn't talk about it. Similar to my mental health, it was something I fought through on my own.
My sleep got even worse after I retired. Without all the physical exertion, my racing mind became harder to control. But as an athlete, I'm always trying to improve—and I knew there was a lot of room for improvement in my sleep. Ultimately, I ended up working with my doctor to go on sleep medication for my insomnia (QUVIVIQ). I know that there are risks and rewards to medications, but I'm really happy with how this is working for me, and I'm glad I found it. I pair it with meditative practices like journaling to help clear my mind.
Sleep is such an important part of recovery. Now that I'm sleeping better, I have a lot more energy during the day, and my life has improved significantly.
- Average hours I sleep a night: The more I can get, the better. In an ideal world, I'd get 10 hours a night, but that's not always possible... These days, I'm usually getting around 8 to 9 hours.
- Ideal bedtime: It depends on the time zone I'm in and whether I'm jet-lagged. I try to go to bed between 9 and 10 p.m., but it's usually closer to 11 to 12 p.m.
- Ideal wake-up time: I try to wake up around 7:30 or 8 a.m.
- Bedroom essentials: A journal, lip balm, a book, a picture of my mom, QUVIVIQ, a candle.
- Favorite place I've ever slept: Home! There's something so comforting about being in my own bed—even if there's not always much space for me among my three dogs.
- Caffeine consumption: I used to rely on Red Bull a lot when I was racing and had sleep problems. But now since I'm sleeping better, I'm drinking less caffeine.
- How I track my sleep: I use an Oura ring. From an exercise perspective, I like knowing if I've recovered so I can understand how hard I can push myself the next day.
While my sleep routine changes when I'm traveling, this is a typical night for me when I'm at home:
8:30 p.m.: I usually have dinner on the sofa watching TV. At home, I'll eat pretty light dinners because heavier foods impact how well I sleep. I'll have a salad with salmon or chicken—I keep it really easy for my body to process. And as much as I love sugar (I'm a big ice cream person), I try not to eat it right before bed. I keep sweets to the afternoon if I can.
9 p.m.: I've been watching Law & Order since I was a kid. It was something my family did together, and I always found it very comforting. So now even if I'm watching something else, I usually try to switch over to a Law & Order episode after. In the end, once the murder has been solved, I feel comforted and ready to prepare for bed.
9:15 p.m.: I'll turn the TV off and take the dogs out. I'll walk with them for a few minutes then go back in to wash up.
9:30 p.m.: I'll take my sleep medication and do my beauty routine. I have combination skin, and I used to be anti-oils because I thought they'd make my face oily, but now I love them for staying hydrated. Vintner's Daughter makes one of my favorites.
9:45 p.m.: Time to head to my bedroom. I keep a really dark room with blackout curtains. My comforter is also really important to me. Since I spend so much time in the cold, I crave something heavy and comfortable. I'll slip under the covers, which can actually take a while with the dogs. Leo is 95 pounds... If I don't get in bed before him, he'll take over my entire spot.
10 p.m.: I'll write in my journal (maybe with a candle). Journaling is something that's been really important for me through my mental health journey. It helps me slow down, process, and reflect. I used to write about all the goals I had for the next day but I found that this actually revved me up before, so now I just reflect on the day and free-write about how I felt. I'll stay away from what's going to happen tomorrow because that can be a slippery slope.
Maybe I'll read a bit afterward but that doesn't always happen. I try not to watch TV in bed, even though it's comforting because I find that it wakes my mind back up.
10:30 p.m.: The last thing I do every night before hitting the pillow is put on lip balm. I'm at high altitudes so often that it really dries my face out. These days I keep around all the oils, lotions, lip balms... the more, the merrier.
As told to mindbodygreen editor Emma Loewe.
Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn, born on October 18, 1984, in St. Paul, Minnesota is one of the most decorated American ski racers in history and widely regarded among the greatest of all time.
Lindsey burst onto the international skiing scene in 1999 at the age of 14 and has since captivated the world with her perseverance and superhuman abilities on the slopes. She’s won four World Cup overall championships—one of only two female skiers to do so with three consecutive titles in 2008, 2009, and 2010, plus another in 2012. Lindsey won the gold medal in downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the first one for an American woman. She also won a record 8 World Cup season titles in the downhill discipline (2008–2013, 2015, 2016), 5 titles in super-G (2009–2012, 2015), and 3 consecutive titles in the combined (2010– 2012). In 2016, she won her 20th World Cup crystal globe title, the overall record for men or women. Her total of 82 World Cup victories is a women's record.
Although Lindsey single-handedly put American ski racing on the map, her journey was punctuated by divesting setbacks and brutal injuries. Broken Ankle, gruesome bruises, and critical damage to a nerve in her arm, just to name a few. For those who’ve struggled to pick themselves up after facing a downfall, Lindsey’s blind resolve isn’t just inspirational; it’s hard to put into words. Her fearlessness is what made her successful, and what pushed her past genuine limits.
Lindsey is also a New York Times Bestselling author for her 2016 debut novel Strong Is the New Beautiful: Embrace Your Natural Beauty, Eat Clean, and Harness Your Power and has served as an International Games Ambassador in the 2018 Winter Olympics and is also the founder of the Lindsey Vonn Foundation, which supports girls through scholarships, education, and athletics.
In February 2019, Lindsey announced her retirement from ski racing and that same year commemorated her final season with the release of her HBO documentary “Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season.” Since her retirement, Lindsey has launched a production company, Après Productions, seeking to chronicle stories of sport, women, and determination. She has released her memoir Rise: My Story in 2022, detailing her years as professional skier as well as her struggles with mental health. And as an extra thrill, she added the title of
“Host” to her resume with the premiere of the Amazon Prime Video show The Pack where Lindsey and her dog, Lucy, host a global family-friendly reality competition series.
With her vast social media following, growing portfolio of books, TV projects, investments, and commitment to her namesake Foundation, Lindsey looks forward to the next chapter of her life as she continues to build her legacy and empower women of all ages across the globe.