I'm A Sleep Researcher & This Is Exactly How I Prep For A Night Of A+ Sleep


8 p.m.: Fasting begins. Intermittent fasting (typically a 15/ 9 schedule) is helpful for me because I know nothing I consume (food or drink) after 8 p.m. is ever healthy or good for my sleep.

8:30 p.m. Returned home this afternoon after a weekend in Santa Cruz, watching my son compete in a half Ironman. Even spectating these endurance events is exhausting! I am definitely feeling fatigued from the weekend and the travel, but I know I may need some extra wind-down to help shift my biological clock an hour later (from PST to MT).

8:35 p.m.: I close the blinds in the living room and turn down all the lights in the house to help cue my brain that it is nighttime.

8:40 p.m.: After some discussion with my husband about what show we should watch, we land on a documentary about the tennis player Mardy Fish on the “Untold” series. Documentaries are a pretty safe bet for us for nighttime entertainment, because we both enjoy them, and it’s a good way to avoid watching anything too disturbing, like “Ozark” or the news, which tends to keep me up at night.

9:43 p.m.: I rouse the dogs from the couch, and let them outside one more time before bed, then send them to their doggie beds in the laundry room. (I am not one to let my dogs sleep with us, as much as I love them, I care about my sleep too much!).

9:47 p.m.: I plug my phone into the charging station we keep in our kitchen (and out of the bedroom).

9:50 p.m.: I put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, wash my face, moisturize, and fill my water bottle (which I place on my bedside table) and set my running clothes on my dresser, so I’m ready for my run tomorrow.

9:55 p.m.: I spray my sheets and pillow with rosemary scented pillow spray, climb in bed, and grab my kindle. Technically speaking, the bed is supposed to be used for sleep and sex only, but for me, reading is soporific and it’s part of my ritual. I am currently reading Stephen King’s “Fairy Tale”. I love his storytelling, but I will need to be careful if this particular story gets too disturbing or scary. If that happens, I’ll have to make this a daytime-only book, so that it doesn’t keep me up at night or give me nightmares. So far though, it’s a nice story about a boy and a dog and a somewhat mysterious old man.

10:17 p.m.: I’ve only made it through a handful of pages and my eyes are starting to go half-mast. Time for bed.

10:20 p.m.: Kiss my hubby goodnight and enjoy a few minutes of cuddling. As I discuss in my book, it’s really important for couples to punctuate the starts and ends of their days with small, but sweet gestures. Even a quick cuddle is a great way to connect and personally, gives me a wonderful sense of comfort. Then, I turn over to my side of the bed and take a moment to just experience how good it feels to be in bed, in my comfy sheets. I love this moment before falling asleep. I savor it, knowing it won’t be long until I drift off to sleep.

6:43 a.m.: I wake up on my own. I check the clock, and realize I have a few minutes to cuddle with my husband, which feels especially good on this chilly morning. I’m feeling a bit groggy, but that’s probably just due to the busy weekend, not a reflection of my sleep. I rouse myself out of bed.

6:47 a.m.: I grab my toothbrush and bring it into the COLD shower with me. I take a deep breath and submerge myself in the cold water. It’s definitely a shock to the system. I do a little jogging in place to help myself cope with the temperature, and I brush my teeth while singing the alphabet song to help pass the time.

6:50 a.m.: By the time I finish singing the alphabet song, that’s my cue that I’ve endured the cold long enough, so it’s time to get out of the shower. I am now wide awake. As I am engaging in this bit of self-torture, my husband starts brewing the coffee for us.

7 a.m.: Coffee in hand, I grab my dogs from the room where they sleep and take them to our backyard, where I throw the ball for them, and get my 10 minutes of sunlight exposure and do Wordle. I really look forward to this ritual now. I know it’s good for my dogs and it’s good for me, as getting sunlight first thing, is one of the most effective strategies for setting my circadian rhythm, which in turn, sets me up for sleep success at night. I relish this peaceful time to myself, before diving into work or family responsibilities.


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