I’m A Somatic Practitioner & Here’s Why I Recommend Taking Microbreaks Throughout The Day
I always struggled with sleep and insomnia until I had my son Solomon. When he was eight months old and having sleep issues, I recognized that I had to change my relationship to sleep so his nervous system could find its way through mine. Infants and young children learn to sleep through co-regulation with their caregivers’ nervous system1. This is part of what creates trust, which leads to feeling safe enough to sleep.We often talk about blocking blue light, synching up with our circadian rhythms, and not eating a heavy meal before bed to support sleep. What is often left out of the sleep conversation are the important aspects of trust and safety, which are essential to a good night’s rest. If we don’t feel safe enough in our bodies to drop down into sleep as I didn’t, we might continue to miss out on our essential rest until we learn how to feel safe. This is work that I was fortunate to do with Solomon, and we taught each other to sleep in those early years. What continues to help me the most with sleep is to make sure that my nervous system is getting breaks (even micro ones) of rest throughout the day. Rest is a bridge to sleep, and the more I am able to access rest during the day (however briefly), my sleep is much deeper through the night. Little rest breaks can look like petting one of our dogs for a few minutes, stepping away from my computer and looking at the trees, slowing my breathing for a few rounds, or savoring a mug of herbal tea.
Average hours I sleep a night: These days it’s anyone’s guess! My partner and I are foster parents, and we currently have two placements in addition to our kids, so four under the age of 5. If just one of the kids sleeps through the night, we consider it a win.
Ideal bedtime: My ideal time to go to bed right now is 9:30 pm. to 9:45 p.m.
Ideal wake-up time: This is an easy one to answer! My ideal time to wake up would be whenever my body is ready. One of the most beautiful but challenging parts of having four little kids is one of them inevitably wakes all the other ones up way too early, and within 5 minutes, everyone is in the bed cuddling or rolling all over us.
Nightstand essentials: Right now, it’s a basket with diapers in it! But in the past, it has always been books. I have always loved falling asleep reading.
Favorite place I’ve ever slept: Early on in our romance, my partner Nic and I went to the Ventana campgrounds in Big Sur, and we camped next to a stream under the stars after a perfect day and an even more perfect sunset. It was one of our most magical moments, with just the two of us and the dogs curled up by our sleeping bags.
Sleep bad habit: Missing my sleep window
Caffeine consumption: An occasional matcha to remind myself I cannot drink caffeine!
The first thing I do when I wake up: Take a deep breath and set an intention for my day, then hug my kids
My sleep routine
5:30-6 a.m.: Wake up to the sunrise. We don’t have curtains in our house and live by the sun’s light. I do my best as often as possible to go to sleep with the sunset and wake up with the sunrise. With young children, this doesn’t always go as planned, but it is the larger intention that I hold around sleep. Even when I am exhausted, getting up with the sunrise helps me feel more recharged, especially if I can get outside for a few minutes before making breakfast. This helps to set the tone for the day and set my body clock.
6:30 p.m.: Read to our three kids and tuck them into bed.
7:30 p.m.: Clean up the kitchen, fold laundry, and finish housework for the night.
8 p.m.: Do my face routine with Marie Veronique line for aging skin; this is one of my favorite nighttime rituals that nourishes my skin and keeps it healthy, but also grounds my nervous system and prepares me for sleep. Do the rest of the bathroom things, floss, brush my teeth, take out my contacts, brush my hair.
8:30 p.m.: Feed our 7-week-old baby, get her ready for sleep, swaddle her, place her in the crib
9:30 p.m.: Depending on the night, I either catch up with Nic, try to get a little more work finished, or listen to an audiobook.
9:30-9:45 p.m.: Crawl in bed and practice gentle breathing or yoga nidra. I usually fall asleep in 15 minutes. After tracking my sleep for the last few months with Oura, this is my ideal bedtime window. I try to align with my sleep chronotype as it does make a difference in how I feel. I am more of a morning person.
1-2 a.m.: Feed our baby again and get her back to sleep. I keep the house lights off to disrupt my sleep as little as possible and have her diapers, wipes, etc. right next to the bed to keep things simple for myself. When needed, I turn on a salt lamp in the kitchen and prep her bottles. Once she is down, I can usually go back to sleep pretty quickly.
4-5 a.m.: Feed our baby again and get her back to sleep. Once she is asleep, I rest in bed until our other kids wake up and rush into the bedroom!