Sleep, wake, repeat. Read all about how our friends optimize their surroundings, unwind, and relax the mind for a good night—every night.

 

Lights Out with Kate Taylor Martin

We sat down with Kate Taylor Martin, the founder of our favourite superfood snack cafe nutbar to talk about her nightly bedtime rituals.

Double, Queen, or King?

King!! King! Is there any other kind? To be fair, I’m tall and I love sleeping in a sideways V-shape stretched out so a king is essential for my optimal sleep… and marriage. 

Why is a good night’s sleep important to you?

I really feel good sleep is the ultimate pillar of health and everything else rests upon its foundation. We feel this immediately if we have a horrible night’s sleep. If you’re not sleeping well, it doesn't matter how well you’re eating, how much you’re exercising or what other wellness habits you’re practicing, it’s almost impossible to feel good without high-quality, uninterrupted, deep sleep.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night—or at least dream of getting?

Minimum 8. Maximum…. I mean I’m pretty sure I could sleep all day if able. I love sleep. I love being in my bed. I love the feeling of being slightly conscious of the fact that I’m sleeping in and indulging in it. But with two young kids that’s a bit of a pipe dream. So the usual routine is in bed reading by 9 or 9:30 and up at 6 to have some quiet time to myself before the house wakes.

Are you a dreamer?

Major dreamer. They are usually intense and vivid and visceral. I’ve actually become much more conscious of what my “inputs” are during the day (social media accounts I follow, things I read and watch, conversations I’m having, etc.) because I’ve noticed how much they can appear in my dreams and it makes me realize how important it is to fill our thoughts and minds with the things that make us feel good and fill us up because it all penetrates our subconscious.

What’s currently on your bedside table?

An essential oil roller my brother made for me that is a combination of my favourite sleep-promoting scents, a stack of books that I’m working through and heavy duty earplugs (my husband is a snorer and these little pliable pieces of thick blue clay are the best $10 I’ve ever spent).

But perhaps most important is what’s not there - my phone! Charging my phone in the bathroom on airplane mode instead of beside my bed has done wonders for my sleep and screen time boundaries (and -- it’s worth noting that it still acts as my alarm but having it away from arms reach means I don’t press snooze a million times anymore which is a significantly better way to wake up in the morning.)

Do you partake in any nightly routine before settling into bed?

Yes, it’s one of my favourite times of the day. Our lives are so busy and full that it’s become really important to carve out time to wind down my body and mind before bed. Once the kids are down and I’ve finished any work I had to do, I usually dim the lights in the house, often light a few candles and engage in some sort of self-care ritual like a facemask or meditation, a gentle stretch, reading some fiction and definitely no screens. Any or all of that is also always accompanied by some kind of nighttime tea or tonic.

Tell us about where the magic happens—and by magic, we mean sleep. How do you optimize your sleep environment?

No artificial light, no noise pollution, black out blinds, ear plugs, window cracked, no phone nearby, sheets untucked, perfect pillow (wow it’s dawning on me that I’m a really high maintenance sleeper…)

If you feel a restless night coming on, is there anything you do to help get you through the night without waking?

Ummm...try not to panic.  Thanks to my brother and sister in law and their company Inward, I’ve started introducing breathwork practices and notice how much that can help calm both pre-sleep, and can help settle my mind and body if I awake mid-sleep.

Do you have any simple food or drink tips that help promote great sleep?

Yes! First of all, do not eat too close to bedtime! Sleep is our time for rest and rejuvenation and if we instead need to divert this energy to digestion, it will lead to a really restless night. If you absolutely need a snack, it’s smart to stick to low glycemic ones like olives or nuts and seeds so that you’re not spiking blood sugar levels. Second, if you notice you’re having poor sleeps it’s a good idea to evaluate your stimulant intake during the day (don’t kill me, but yes, that means coffee. A lot of people have a hard time metabolizing it. And, excess refined sugar can also have a very negative impact on sleep). Finally, there are also so many beautiful sleep-promoting herbs and spices you can incorporate into your diet that really help to gently lull you into a restful night. For example, herbs like holy basil, lavender, lemon balm or rhodiola, which are easy to consume in tea form. Or, I love an elixir with a bit of warmed nutmilk (unbiased opinion is that nutbar nutmilk is by far the best), cinnamon, cardamom and a dash of coconut oil.