“Shut eye,” “forty winks” or perhaps even “hitting the hay,” but whatever you choose to call it, I’ve found that sleep is essential to everything we do when we are awake. After years of awful sleep times, patterns and no real structure, three years ago I finally developed a sleep and waking up routine and without a doubt it has changed my entire life.
As a model and image consultant, a lot is demanded of me on a daily basis. When I’m modelling, I’m usually needed from early in the morning for hair, makeup and wardrobe but all the makeup in the world can’t hide the truth about your sleep – it’s all in the eyes and the eyes never lie. If I’m dealing with an image client, I have to be totally present and at my best especially considering it’s my own business. And all of this doesn’t even include the traveling I do every month! My body and mind need to be well rested and ready for my daily challenges; getting solid sleep is the fundamental to everything I do.
My sleep routine is a simple one, I break it down into three parts – before going to sleep, when waking up and everything in between. All three parts work in sync together like a well-oiled machine. Before sleeping, my number one rule is to stay away from screens for at least 60 minutes. I also practice simple things like dimming the lights in my apartment as according to Stephen Lockley in this Harvard Medical School article, “light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep.” I’m especially wary of blue wavelengths which, as the same Harvard research shows “seem to be the most disruptive at night.” It also keeps the temptation of working (and scrolling through Insta) away from my mind.
I don’t drink alcohol before sleeping, nor do I eat anything particularly heavy. I like to lower the temperature in the room slightly and have a warm shower an hour or so before getting into bed. An analysis from Sleep Medicine Reviews suggests that a warm shower can improve sleep quality – it provides a way for the body to heat up then cool down and it does wonders for me falling asleep naturally. I’m a big fan of hot milk with turmeric (which has a plethora of health benefits) before bed too – and I love my aromatherapy spray around my pillows to bring a fragrancy that makes me want to cuddle up and fall asleep. Perhaps most importantly, I pick a time to go to sleep and stick to it daily and this has been a real game-changer for me.
After a great night of sleep, my waking up routine is even simpler. Alongside sleeping at the same time, I also wake up at the same time. In 2017 a Nobel Prize was awarded for research into circadian biology which explores the theory that our circadian cycle or inner clock “regulates critical functions such as behaviour, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism.” Falling in line with nature seems to be essential for everything we do and I think it’s hugely important to respect nature! Even after attending a late-night social event, I wake up at the same time where possible and return to my pattern the next night. When waking up, I prefer to avoid hitting snooze as it leaves me groggy and anxious waiting in terror for the next alarm! I refrain from looking at any screens for the first hour, instead focusing on stretching and deep breathing. This really provides me with a feeling of zen first thing in the morning and helps regulate my mood for the day.
Everything in between sleeping and waking up is just as crucial. I avoid caffeinated drinks after 4pm and I never nap! I used to adore falling asleep on the couch after a long day on my feet; perfect position, exact napping temperature, the warmth of the dog curled up with you – sounds amazing right? Wrong! As tempting as it seems, napping always confused my night-time sleep pattern, often forcing me to sleep later. As well as being detrimental for my sleep routine, according to the JACC, napping for more than 60 minutes per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 50 percent. So I try to avoid naps and when I do have them, I keep them short and sweet before continuing with my day.
And the result of my sleeping routine? My skin is clear and soft, I can exercise with tonnes of energy, my mind is sharp, I am able to retain everything I learn on a daily basis and I am fresh and ready to tackle the world. In addition, my ability to make important decisions has improved significantly and these are decisions which affect my personal and professional life often deciding huge moments for me. I am less bloated with less inflammation and rarely getting pain or injuries. Most importantly, my ability to have a clear night’s sleep via the development of a sleeping routine, allows me to be the absolute best version of myself without any interruptions; I am raring to go and ready to conquer. Thanks sleeping routine – I love you!