I Struggled With Sleep For 20+ Years — Until I Found This Daily Routine
There's been no bigger well-being struggle for me than falling and staying asleep. An overactive mind that is prone to spiraling has been a work in progress for me for 20-plus years. It's a journey that I will be on for life. I sleep best when my mind is at peace, the room is cool, and I am mindful of light exposure at the beginning and end of the day. Good sleep provides positive ripple effects throughout my day, so it's something that I am actively thinking about as soon as I wake up in the morning.
- Average hours I sleep a night: 7 to 8; sometimes I wake up intermittently in the night
- Ideal bedtime: Asleep by 10:30 p.m.
- Ideal wake-up time: 6:15 a.m.
- Nightstand essentials: I keep my nightstand very minimalist, but it contains mindbodygreen's Dream Mist (I spray it over everything sleep-related: my pajamas, my sheets, and my pillows), an Ellis Brooklyn Candle, my Kindle (used on Dark Mode for sleep), and a drawing from my daughter that she leaves on my nightstand.
- Favorite place I've ever slept: Post Ranch Inn on our babymoon with Matteo sheets on the bed near the Pacific Ocean.
- Caffeine consumption: I am very strict with my caffeine curfew of 11 a.m. as my body metabolizes caffeine very slowly. While I relish the morning collagen coffee ritual, I also realize my body is very sensitive to caffeine's effects, and I need to be mindful of it.
- Sleep bad habit: There are definitely places where I am consciously not following proper sleep etiquette. I break all of the sleep rules by watching TV in bed at night. (It brings me a lot of joy!) Studies show that it's best to optimize caffeine 90 to 120 minutes after waking up, but I have my coffee as soon as possible in the morning because I'm often woken up early by an enthusiastic child. I have not embraced the cold shower trend in the morning, even though science shows it can be beneficial for resetting body temperature. I wouldn't call it a bad habit, but it's something I am intentionally not doing because I despise cold showers.
- How I track my sleep: I have a fickle relationship with sleep tracking. I enjoyed the treasure trove of insights when I slept with my Oura ring for the first few weeks. My Oura data helped me make transformative sleep decisions like cutting down on alcohol. But I find tracking daily can be a bit obsessive and reading bad sleep data can exacerbate the feeling of a bad night's sleep. So, I am currently not sleeping with any trackers.
- The last product or habit that changed my sleep for the better: Limiting light exposure before bedtime, removing the phone from my bedroom under all circumstances.
Here's what a recent Tuesday routine looks like for me now that my daughters are back in school:
6:15 a.m.: I am woken up by my daughter coming into our bedroom as soon as she wakes up. I open up our curtains to get as much light as possible.
6:29 a.m.: I make a collagen latte to get in my 17 grams of protein and get some caffeination. Ideally, I go outside on the balcony and snuggle with my daughter to get some natural light as soon as I wake up.
9 a.m.: I walk to the office to get additional sunlight and light exercise.
Lunchtime: I do a very quick workout that includes some aerobic activity and light strength training, like squats and lunges. Getting exercise during the day sets me up for better sleep at night.
6 p.m.: My family integrates circadian fasting into our day naturally as we eat early to set up our kids for an early bedtime that starts at 7 p.m. We have a weekday menu that keeps grocery shopping really simple so that it's one less thing we have to think about. Our daughters love the Tolerant lentil pasta, and tonight we added broccoli. I am super sensitive to alcohol and its impact on sleep, so no drinking with dinner.
7 p.m.: Start bedtime with our children.
7:45 p.m.: Log back on to my computer to finish work. Sadly, working at night does have an impact on my sleep, and it's also a reality of my life. If I don't finish my work by 8:30 or so, I prefer to log on early in the morning to get it done. It's definitely a work in progress for me, especially as my family's routines change with the start of the school year.
8:30 p.m.: If I have the time, I love the ritual of having a bath before bedtime. (Realistically, I'm probably doing this two times per month.) Baths are not only relaxing, but I know they alter my body temperature to help with falling asleep.
9 p.m.: I take two mindbodygreen sleep support+ capsules to help me fall and stay asleep. They take about two hours to kick in and make me feel pleasantly sleepy.*
9:05 p.m.: Time to close my blackout curtains for the day. I light a candle from my friend Bee Shapiro's line, Ellis Brooklyn, for a little light while I'm in bed and spray mindbodygreen's Dream Mist all over my linens to create a sleep cocoon. My husband, Jason, and I keep our bedroom at 67 degrees Fahrenheit. We don't use white noise, but our apartment is very quiet.
9:15 p.m.: Get into my bed, which is a splurge! I sleep on an Avocado Mattress.
9:30 p.m.: Enjoy some television and read one of the early-release book copies that mindbodygreen authors have sent our way by candlelight or on my Kindle. I just finished Melissa Urban's upcoming book, which is being released later this year. About an hour later, I'm ready to go to sleep.
Colleen Wachob is Co-Founder and Co-CEO at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Stanford University with degrees in international relations and Spanish, and spent 10 years working at Fortune 500 companies including Gap, Walmart, and Amazon. Wachob lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, mbg Founder and Co-CEO Jason Wachob and their two daughters, Ellie and Grace. Her first book, which is co-authored with mindbodygreen Founder Jason Wachob, The Joy of Well-Being, is being released on May 23, 2023.