The Nightly Routine That Allows Me To Run A Business — Without Sacrificing Sleep
When I first started my telehealth functional medicine clinic over a decade ago, I was burning the candle at both ends. Not only would I stay up late (working, not even relaxing), but I'd also wake up early to make the long commute to my office and start the grind. This vicious cycle took a toll on my adrenal health, which led to chronic fatigue. I knew that in order to have the long, successful career I aspired to have, I needed to change my relationship with sleep.
It took some time, but cultivating a nighttime routine was the biggest thing that helped me have the best night's sleep. In those early years, my racing thoughts about my to-do list inhibited my quality of sleep, and this can still happen if I'm not careful. By giving myself enough time to wind down away from electronics, with the help of tools like supplements, weighted blankets, and essential oils, I am able to get seven to eight hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep each night.
When I'm fully rested, I'm more productive during my working hours—so I'm happy to report I don't have to burn the candle at both ends anymore.
- Average hours I sleep a night: 7 to 8
- Ideal bedtime: 10 p.m.
- Ideal wake-up time: 6 a.m.
- Nightstand essentials: Essential oil diffuser, lavender oil, and a great book
- Favorite place I've ever slept: Besides my own bed (I'm a homebody), anywhere in Arizona. The desert calms me, and I sleep so well after spending a day in nature.
- Sleep bad habit: Not always fully disengaging from technology 2+ hours before bed. If you know me, I love a good historical documentary, and sometimes it's hard to turn off the TV before I find out all the juicy details. That, and sometimes a little too much caffeine in the afternoon.
- Caffeine consumption: While I love coffee, tea is my first love. I drink a lot of it—both caffeinated and caffeine-free
- How I track my sleep: I love the Oura ring to dial in on my sleep quality
- The last product or habit that changed my sleep for the better: The Magnesium from my supplement line, The Collection. It calms my mind and helps me fall asleep faster.
7 p.m.: I try to work out in the morning, but some weekdays I need to be out the door a little earlier than usual. So on days like this, I'll do a 30ish-minute Peloton workout followed by a 20-minute Sunlighten sauna session in the early evening. I find that infrared saunas can help alleviate any stress that has piled on during the day, allowing your mind to be free and clear for sleep.
8 p.m.: After jumping through a quick shower, I'll join my family to close out the evening with some sort of TV show (any Outlander fans out there?) or a nature/historical documentary. If I am really good, I'll wear my blue-light-blocking glasses while we watch.
9 p.m.: At this point, we start making our way to our bedroom, so I'll mix a scoop of The Magnesium into a glass of water and chug it. Since it's formulated with magnesium compounds like Albion chelated magnesium plus Magtein™ (magnesium L-threonate) that are proven to cross the blood-brain barrier; it works in a flash to calm my mind and enact a state of sleepiness.*
9:05 p.m.: Second stop: Wash my face and brush my teeth. I keep a rotation with a few favorite products, and right now, I'm really loving the Barrier Bioactive Treatment from U Beauty, along with a few different products from Dr. Barbara Sturm, Dr. Whitney Bowe, and Agent Nateur.
9:15 p.m.: Before crawling into bed I'll draw close our blackout curtains. This helps me sleep deeper and longer, especially in the summer when the sun rises early. Then I'll turn off the bright overhead lights, turn on my side table lamp, and grab whatever book I'm currently reading off of my nightstand.
9:45 - 10 p.m.: After finishing up my reading for the evening (I usually only last about 30 minutes), I'll fill up my diffuser with a water bottle from my side table and a few drops of lavender essential oil. I'll also add some to the bottom of my feet and my wrists for good measure.
10 p.m.: I'll grab my weighted blanket from the edge of the bed, lie down, close my eyes, start a meditation, and it's off to sleep before I realize my meditation is even over.
6 a.m.: Alarm clock goes off, but I usually wake up about a minute or two beforehand, as my body has acclimated to my regular schedule. In order to keep the temptation away and screen time to a minimum, we charge our phones in another room at night so we have a classic old-school-style alarm clock!
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian,The Inflammation Spectrum, and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.