Accidental Nap Starter-Kit + Musings of a Former Insomniac
For The Love Of Sleep
I am obsessed with sleep. Not only is beauty sleep real but the quality of our slumber impacts everything from breakouts and wrinkles, to stress-levels and wellness. Enter: the accidental nap, one of my favorite “adult” hobbies.
My appreciation for manufacturing Z's developed out of my history with insomnia. I had trouble sleeping throughout high school, college, and graduate school. I considered myself lucky if I made it to sleep by 1 am, but it was frequently closer to 4 or 6. Sometimes I couldn't sleep at all, which left me feeling like a zombie the next day.
The knowledge of an early wake-up time filled me with dread. I missed everything from flights to entire weddings dealing with an insane sleep schedule. I was living in my own personal time zone (not in a good way). While tossing and turning is excruciating, waking up with an insomnia-hangover physically hurts.
My sleep problems went away for good about 4 years ago after a near-health-catastrophe. I was panic attack-level stressed, working crazy hours, commuting back and forth between two sites, and spending time with my boyfriend — who was living an hour and a half away — in secret (the reason for our secrecy was the biggest source of stress of them all). I found out later that my client caseload for previous 8 months had been double that of one of my co-workers. I developed dizziness, vertigo, and fainting, in addition to feeling groggy and exhausted. I was unable to drive and took a medical leave from work before ultimately quitting.
This later led to becoming a writer, which allowed me to work regardless of my physical vitality. Looking back, I regret that it took my body breaking down before I restructured my life in a more pro-health direction. Ever since, I have tried not to take my health for granted. This has meant prioritizing well-being ahead of almost everything else. (I’ve been criticized for it a lot! It’s surprising to find out how many people will seem to feel personally invested in your decision to start putting your health first.)
The saying is so true, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I was beyond drained!
Why is Sleep So Important?
When you don't adequately rest your body, your nerves start to feel fried. That’s the nervous system burning on fumes as the fight-or-flight response remains “on” longer than biology intended. Your adrenal gland has to work overtime producing stress-hormones like cortisol and adrenalin to keep you alert and awake... But eventually, it starts to run out. (Probably around the time when I started having dizzy spells.)
Sleep also plays a key role in having great skin. While you sleep, your body’s largest organ (the skin) detoxifies, repairs itself, and regenerates. After sessions in collagen-stimulating LightWave LED beds (like the one at the Joanna Vargas Spa in Sunset Towers), I notice incredible improvements to my skin after I've woken up from deep sleep. (I also feel extra ready to nap after LightWave beds, BTW.)
For the chronically stressed, living in a state of inner/outer peril, the body’s interconnected systems and its delicate hormones start to get all kinds of crazy.
From then on, I promised myself to always prioritize self-care and sleep. Stress-reduction became a top priority, because I had learned the hard way that rampant and unregulated stress eventually leads to adrenal fatigue. If you have trouble sleeping, you probably already realize that it is one of the most precious and healing states on this earth. You might feel like there's nothing you can do — but don't give up!
Tom + Delilah Showing Off their Sleeping Skills
Train Yourself to Sleep
Sleep-training begins with checking yourself whenever the stress process gets going — building awareness of the triggering thoughts, feelings, and events is step 1. Also focus on invoking the relaxation response regularly in your schedule. This means different things depending on your taste, but for me it often means going to the spa, practicing yoga, getting acupuncture, or taking CBD.
The more you make relaxing a habit, the better you will become at it. The end goal is to bring your baseline level of stress down to a manageable level that is much less exhausting to the body. It took me years to get there, but it was worth it. I am a sleeping machine these days and it's glorious beyond belief.
On weekends I often take "accidental naps," a hobby I share with blogger Alexis of The Petite Introvert. I honestly think of it like medicine. By getting in the habit of prioritizing self-care, making time to unwind, and nourishing your body with sleep whenever possible, you can experience an entirely different world view than you ever thought was possible.
Here are 10 steps to get your "accidental napping" practice going.
(1) Invest in a Robe.
Beautifying silk is the ideal — it keeps skin hydrated and helps prevent split ends — but anything soft and cloud-like will do. Channel "The Dude" from The Big Lebowski — just with glam-factor — and give yourself permission to go makeup-free once in a while.
**Use code luxuriate20 for 20% off + free shipping**
This was such a hit from my MJ Lifestyle piece that I had to include it.
(2) Get Comfortable and Cute Pyjamas.
As much as I would love a $600 silk kimono by Fleur du Mal to match, these adorable PJ sets will do. The key is to find the most supremely comfortable pair that you can relax-to-the-max in. What can I say? Sometimes that means silk.
(3) Use a Non-Toxic Pillow with a Beautifying Silk Pillow Case.
Down pillows can store allergens that can impact the quality of your sleep. Dust, dander, and inflammation won't help with your breathing and it definitely won't help with your sleep. I am hoping to try the green down-alternative pillows by Avocado. Then to cover it with a hair-and-face-loving silk pillowcase to prevent wrinkles and split-ends while I slumber.
Tip: They also make copper ion-infused sheets, pillowcases, and eye masks for anti-aging.
(4) Take Sleep-Promoting Supplements.
Even pharmaceuticals didn't resolve my sleep woes, but a lifestyle changeup and calm-promoting supplements work better than Ambien for me these days. Tom has been taking melatonin lately and liking it, but that feels old school to me now. I have been taking, and absolutely loving, adaptogenic herb-infused wellness chews by Nerium. The nighttime formula contains ashwaghanda, tryptophan, rhodiola, and their proprietary Circadiplex blend to balance your circadian rhythm and regulate cortisol production.
Hint: Ashwaghanda and Rhodiola are two amazing herbal stress-reducers.
(5) Abide by the ZZZ Trifecta: Skin-Friendly Bedding, a Non-Toxic Mattress, and a Platform Bed.
Ordering my bed and mattress from West Elm was a total disaster. The bed and mattress arrived at different times, the mattress was delivered halfway down a hill (and inaccessible to me), and even the bed was assembled in the wrong spot the first go-around. I flat out knew that unless this bed worked miracles, I would be pissed.
Here's the thing... it was genuinely worth it. It's the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I can't even tell you how many times I have opened a book and woken up later from an accidental nap.
Tip: Get the more expensive mattress by Leesa that combines foam with springs — it's so worth it — and check out skin-enhancing sheets like the anti-bacterial bad boys from Silvon.
West Elm Logan Industrial Platform Bed ($1,200 - $1,599, orig. $1,599 - $1,999) //
Sapira by Leesa Mattress ($995 - $1,795)
(6) Sleep-Training Tools Can Improve your Rest.
The Awair device monitors the quality of the air you're breathing and syncs up to your air cleaner to turn on automatically. I was waking up with asthma before getting an air cleaner, so I love being able to monitor the quality in my apartment. Pollution isn't just unhealthy, it also ages our skin!
Scrumptious scents help with stress-reduction and mood maintenance. The effects of aromatherapy are real: burning sage and incense at the same time puts me into a drowsy state, and you can always try sleep-enhancing essential oils like Crafty Cake Deep Sleep ($14). Still, I love burning luxury candles by companies like Nest and Jo Malone and think the entire Black Pearls collection by Baobab is gorg.
The Dodow fascinates me for an entirely different reason. Using evidence-based methods that yield cognitive results, the light metronome trains your brain to get better at falling asleep. Someone who normally takes 60 minutes to fall asleep should take no more than 25 min with this gadget. The makers of the Goop-approved device estimate that users gain 100+ hours of sleep per year.
(7) Remember to Keep Pre-Nap Skin Essentials Handy.
If napping is even a remote possibility, grab a cleansing face wipe. It is no replacement for an actual cleansing, but falling asleep with makeup on is no bueno. When I use the Skyn towelettes below, I wake up with my face feeling baby soft.
Tip: Opt for unfragranced micellar waters.
(8) Use Aromatherapy-Infused or Medicated Body-Savers to Treat Physical Distractions.
Dry skin is the worst — and itchy skin is unbearable — especially when you're trying to get comfortable. I have started developing eczema on my scalp in my "old age" and itchiness on my legs. I have air cleaners to remove airborne allergens and keep all sorts of hydrators to soothe them; sometimes I even use First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($30) on my legs for its colloidal oatmeal ingredient.
Depending on your concern, Manuka honey is also supposed to rock for itchiness, and topical CBD can help curb aches, pains, and twitchiness. The Good Stuff Botanicals Gypsy Cream ($26-45), which is totally clean, green, and intended to heal psoriasis, helped put me right to sleep for an accidental nap just yesterday. It's been featured in Vogue and is apparently all the rage in Montana.
Tip: My friend Ali recommends taking oatmeal baths for itchiness.
(9) Soak Away Your Worries With a Pre-Sleep Bath Ritual.
If taking a bath helps you relax, by all means reach for a cannabis-infused bath soak to help you fall asleep. Once you get out, you can put on a CBD-infused Body Oil by Bath Asana ($120) and take a dose of a CBD supplement like CAP Beauty The Daily Hit ($96). All of these practices will help you unwind cumulatively, but if you're non-CBD friendly, that's ok, too. Consider This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak ($41) or their Bath Oil ($148) which is surprisingly highly-rated.
Tip: Let go of it all with a detoxifying Goop G.Tox Bath Soak ($35)
(10) The key to taking an accidental nap? Having another purpose altogether.
This might sound like a cop-out, but I am actually being 100% serious. Worrying about having trouble falling asleep is cited as one of the driving sources behind insomnia. When you take the pressure off yourself is when some real accidental napping can occur. Reading fiction (or homework) has always been a great prelude to sleep for me and is one of my prime pre-napping activities. Another one? Meditation. Any activity that occupies your mind — without engaging it so much that it stimulates you — makes accidental sleep more likely.
A few of the books I've read recently...
Have you ever taken an accidental nap? Tell me on Instagram!
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