How Oui the People Founder Karen Young Discovered the Trick to Better Sleep
It’s her one routine that’s made a huge difference.
Published Jul 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.
“I’m very much set so that the sun comes up and I’m up, and the sun goes down and I’m down,” says Karen Young, and she isn’t exaggerating. The Oui the People founder wakes up naturally at 4 a.m.—though she might occasionally sleep in until 5. Her days are full of calls and meetings—remote ones, from the downtown Brooklyn apartment she shares with her husband.
Currently, nearly all of the razors that the brand sells are on presale—careful social distancing and quality assurance have slowed production for the moment—and Young is hard at work testing new products that will launch later in the summer and in the fall. Her workload has far from lessened, but she’s learned how to draw a line and keep her evenings for herself. Here, she shares the routine that ensures she gets the rest she needs each night—and is ready to tackle the next day with the break of dawn.
Dinnertime: I try not to push work past 7 p.m., because I’ve noticed it really disrupts my sleep. I can get worked up or excited or frustrated, so I’m pretty adamant about that cutoff. After that, my husband or I will cook dinner. Especially over the past month, it’s been so nice and calming to make something and eat together, even if it’s just a really fresh salad. A few months ago we subscribed to Natoora to get yummy fruits and vegetables, which is a big part of my approach to health. It’s fun to go into the fridge and discover what we have—I go to the New York Times food section and type in ingredients and see what comes up. When the weather was a bit cooler, I enjoyed making a poached ginger chicken over rice, and now I make simple salads with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and some fresh mint.
Stream team: We have a small balcony, so if it’s nice out, we’ll go outside for a bit, but most of the time, we’ll sit in front of a laptop and watch a show or movie. We just found out that all of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown is on HBO Max. I love that show—it really hits on all the things it feels like we don’t have access to right now. You get to travel the world in your living room for half an hour to 45 minutes every evening. I watch one or two episodes before I’m ready to pass out.
Rinse off: If I’m really hot or I’ve had a lot of stressful calls during the day, I’ll end up showering at night, but otherwise I shower in the morning. I have Moroccan Beldi soap that I’m obsessed with—it’s so nice and brightening and makes my skin really soft.
Skin saviors: I keep my face routine really simple. I use the IS Clinical Cleansing Complex. I just discovered it—it was recommended by an aesthetician whom I follow online. And I dab on a bit of hyaluronic acid. If it’s really hot and we don’t have the AC on, I’ll skip the last step, but otherwise I put on some argan oil that I picked up in Morocco. I’ve been breaking out and getting some whiteheads, especially from wearing my face mask, so I’ve been using clear acne pads from Cosrx.
On the agenda: If my mind is going, it’s because I’m running through my to-do list, so it helps to write down the things I’m planning for the next day. Sometimes we’ll be in the middle of dinner or watching a show and I’ll reach for my trusty red notebook and record my thoughts. Those things will keep me awake, so it’s better to jot things down.
Razor rituals: At this point, my hair no longer grows at the same rate after shaving for years with a safety razor. So my favorite thing to do on the weekends is draw a bath, and when I’m in there, I get a really close shave using Sugarcoat. When I’m out of the tub, I finish off with Featherweight, and I sometimes add some essential oils, since it’s fragrance free. It feels really good.
Midnight snacks: I discovered Tony’s Chocolonely, which everyone kept saying was some of the best chocolate—it comes in these gigantic bars that you can break a piece off of. My other favorite is Hu Kitchen, which is incredible—but Tony’s is three times the size, so it’s more fun to eat.
Best bed: I’m most particular about having linen sheets—I will never go back. But they can be really expensive, so I order them on Etsy. A lot of them are made in Poland, and you can buy them directly from the makers, which helps them to be more accessibly priced. I don’t have stacks and stacks of pillows, but I do love a big, overstuffed one with a linen cover.
Perfect pj’s: I’m an old T-shirt person—there are so many other times I would rather focus on looking amazing than before bed.
Required reading: I have a very vivid imagination, so I have to be careful of what I read or watch, because I will end up with nightmares. These days my schedule is so full that sometimes I face-plant and that’s it, but I am a big lover of fiction if I do read before bed. I’ve been enjoying The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates—it’s so jam-packed with amazing imagery.
Bedside essential: On my nightstand I keep my grandmother’s Bible—she pretty much raised me and we were very, very close, so it feels like being near to her in some way. She was very into church, and I’m not as into it now, but it still has a spiritual element to it because it makes me think of her.
Peace of mind: I do Transcendental Meditation. I need to get better at doing it in the evening, but it’s the one thing I’ve done in my whole life that has made the most remarkable difference in my sleep. I’ve been practicing it for about six months now. I’m a relatively sensitive person when it comes to sounds and visuals around me, which can be wonderful for inspiration, but when it comes to my sleep, my mind can be really busy. I wanted to turn to something so I wouldn’t have to rely on CBD and other things like that, but rather have the tools that are within me.
Extra z’s: Once in a while I do take a melatonin gummy from Olly if things feel like too much, and I also buy single packets of Calm magnesium powder from Whole Foods. I don’t want to grow too dependent on it that I have to buy a full jar.
Tech disconnect: The only tech that I keep in my bedroom is my iPad—I have just a few apps on it and use it primarily for reading. I can’t remember when I started leaving my phone in the living room, but I’ve never looked back. I don’t even think twice about it.
Lights-out no later than 10:30 p.m.
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