I have always been a very light sleeper. This was difficult during my residency years when I’d often need to sleep in an on-call room, with noises and sounds all around. These days, stress, caffeine, blue light, and forgetting my face mask or earplugs are the biggest barriers to a good night’s sleep for me. I sleep best when I’m on vacation–which makes sense since I’m not thinking about all the stressful things I have to do the next day! I like to think of sleep as the best performance-enhancing medication. I joke that if it wasn’t free, it would be banned.
6:30 p.m.: I stop eating three hours before bed–so by 6:30 p.m. on most nights. I have done a lot of research and personal experimentation with time-restricted eating, and I really believe it is one of the best free tools we have to improve metabolism and gene health. (Stopping eating earlier in the evening can also improve sleep quality.) In fact, a new study just came out on how time-restricted eating influences gene expression in a positive way in over 70% of your genes1.
7 p.m.: I turn off all the blue lights around my house, stop using the computer, and put a blue light filter on my phone. Everything is dim and dark. I turn down the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and I ask my children to turn down the lights as well. I try not to have any phone calls or exciting conversations or emails after this time.
8 p.m.: I put away my devices to charge, face down so I’m not tempted to check them. This is usually when I’ll go into my bathroom and get ready for bed. I do a nighttime routine that includes cleansing my face and preparing my clothes for the next day. I have a piece of paper and pen to jot down any ideas or thoughts before bed.
8:15 p.m.: I spend a few minutes with my children and my husband, unplugged.
8:30 p.m.: I think about what went well that week or that day to help me disconnect from stress.
9 p.m.: It’s lights out for me