Jessica Williams Has an Unconventional Cure for Insomnia
How the comedian finds peace of mind pre-bedtime.
Published Jan 5, 2020 12:00 AM
We spend a third of our lives asleep—that means our bedroom is the most lived-in space in our homes. It’s the room where we start and end our days, and that’s why the rituals that happen there are extra important. In The Wind Down, we’ll be exploring the nighttime routines of people we admire and taking their advice to make the moments just before bed feel our best.
Most of comedian Jessica Williams’s Brooklyn apartment, she explains, is still in process, with several Pinterest boards devoted to its eventual design. Her bedroom, however, is complete, a haven filled with art by Tactile Matter and a Dusen Dusen comforter—things that make her feel represented and at home.
“I just turned 30, so I’m trying to get better at my nighttime routine,” she says—and she’s picked up some new habits along the way. “A sign that I’m getting older and maturing is that I sometimes come home drunk after hanging out with friends and wake up in the morning and realize that I still washed my face. I’m like, Oh, shit, I’m doing it.”
Some nights, that process involves a Wikipedia deep dive or indulging in some nostalgia with Disney+. (Williams recently partnered with Verizon because, in her words, the provider’s deal with the streaming platform is “pretty tight.”) Here, she shares how she gets ready for sleep—and what she does when insomnia strikes.
Skin saviors: I struggle with cystic acne and hyperpigmentation from having a lot of melanin—#Blessed. I’ve been on a sabbatical, and one of the biggest things I’ve done for my self-care is get multiple facials. Here in Brooklyn, I see Hillery Sklar. Every night I use Botnia’s all-natural facial soap, rose toner, and a combination of its face oil and cream to moisturize.
Stream team: Disney+ brings me joy. I’ve been watching So Weird—I would describe it as baby X-Files. It’s about a young girl named Fiona and her mom, who’s a rock star. The family is grieving because Fiona’s dad passed away due to unclear circumstances. They travel around on a tour bus and solve sci-fi mysteries. I always thought she was really brave, and on top of that, she had that cool blue plastic iMac laptop. I also watch everything from the Disney Renaissance: A lot of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hercules. And I’m obsessed with The Imagineering Story. It gives me that same sense of wonder I had as a kid; that’s really important to me right now.
Required reading: I’m trying to get better about reading a little bit on my Kindle before bed, as opposed to just watching TV. But I usually end up on my phone till I pass out. Throughout the day, I’ll note things to read about later—I save my Wikipedia rabbit holes for bedtime.
Best bed: I invested in a Tempurpedic mattress, which was a game changer. My sheets and duvet cover are by Dusen Dusen—I credit my friend Ellen Van Dusen with getting me into bedding—and I also have a really good Cold Picnic blanket. My other favorite sheets are a super-clutch secret move: the Target jersey knit sheets. They are the bomb and a great price.
Comfort zone: It’s really hard to find images of women of color—I have prints in my room by both Kenesha Sneed of Tactile Matter and Clare Elsaesser. There’s a softness in their work, and it’s nice to feel represented in my own space. My room also has floor-to-ceiling windows; I have a view of a 24-hour McDonald’s. It sounds weird, but there’s something oddly comforting about looking out at a drive-through of people trying to get an Egg McMuffin.
Perfect pj’s: Target has super-, super-soft T-shirts and shorts; sometimes I’ll run to the bodega or Key Food with my Target pajama shirt on. I also like to sleep in my underwear: Lonely Lingerie when I’m feeling cute and sexy, feeling my fantasy, or Pansy when I’m feeling comfortable. They’re these matching sets made with really beautiful organic cotton in stunning colors—and they fit my big butt.
Mind games: We’re obsessed with falling asleep at a specific time—it’s too much pressure. But I have anxiety; sometimes if sleep isn’t coming, it’s not coming. The best thing that I can do is not beat myself up about it. Honestly, the peace from allowing the thoughts to come and making space for them is what puts me to sleep.
Lights-out anywhere between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
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