Food, psychology, health, exercise, beauty, ayurveda, sex, stress, and sleep. (Oh, and astrology.) Those are like the basic-cable channels we flip between: once we get to sleep, we go back to food. Cycle, repeat, cycle, repeat.
I’m of the mind that feeling your best really requires a combination of all of these things, but if I had to pick a single one as the most important of all, I’d pick sleep.
The data on the importance of sleep is incontrovertible: We need it, we need it consistently, and there are specific things—like a routine, black-out blinds, white noise, cool climes—that optimize it. In the absence of good sleep, science says we are at the mercy of cascading hormones that trigger food cravings, cause irritability, lack of focus, emotional fluctuations, and sap our energy—making it harder to do all those other things we know help us feel our best.
A few years ago, I realized I’m one of those 8-hour people. I need my 8 hours, and a disruption of more than a couple days tends to result in undesirable consequences like bad skin and an even worse mood. As such, I try as best I can to be consistent—without forsaking things like, you know, enjoying myself.
I’m not a crazy person about it, but it does take discipline and rigor to keep it up because as anyone who loves a good time knows: there’s always more fun to be had, always one more hour of Housewives, one more chapter to read, one more glass to raise, one more hour of conversation to indulge in.
So in order to keep my sleep consistent, I seem to have, over time, created a bed-time ritual. There are like five things I do every night, and they’re kind of corny and a little embarrassing, but suffice to say somehow, without even noticing it, I’ve created a ritual that totally works! I guess it’s my way of telling my brain: There’s time for activity, and there’s time for sleep. This is the latter.
Some of the things I do every night: I power down all my electronics and turn off the power strip connected to my internet and my giant television; I turn on my fan (even in the winter—homegirl likes her white noise!); I drink some water; I send nice thoughts in my head to people I love or to people who need it.
So now I ask you: What is your non-negotiable-if-you-had-to-pick-just-one-ticket-to-health habit?
And when it comes to sleep: Do YOU have a bedtime ritual?