Published on March 8, 2020

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Courtesy of Naomi Shimada

We spend a third of our lives asleep—that means our bedroom is the most lived-in space in our home. 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.

Naomi Shimada has been thinking about her relationship with her phone. Sure, her dance class videos and electrifying street style spread the good vibes on Instagram, but since coauthoring the book Mixed Feelings, about the emotional impact that comes with an overreliance on all things digital, she’s set some firm boundaries—and that means stepping away from screens at night.

Instead, Shimada takes baths, listens to podcasts, and reads—activities she finds restorative and enriching rather than draining. “2020 is all about self-preservation and canceling plans,” she says. “Bedtime has become really political for me.” Below, she tells us about her full self-care strategy.

Airplane mode: I have to do work on my phone sometimes, but I’ve noticed that I have a hard time sleeping afterward. So after 9 p.m., I try not to look at it. It’s a gift and a curse that we’re so contactable. I’m in the process of installing a landline for emergencies—my agent and my mom will have the number, and that’s it. 

Take a sip: I drink a lot of herbal tea—honestly, I live on it. I rotate between valerian and different kinds of chamomile, sweetened with a really great local lavender honey I found. 

Soak it up: I love to dance—the only problem is that most classes are late at night, and then I’m super–jacked up when I get home. So I put on an hour-long podcast and get in the bath. After a heavy day, it’s the only time when I can turn my brain off. I’ll add lots of salts to the water to cleanse any negative energy, and I make my own essential oil blends with things like frankincense and lavender, depending on what I’m feeling. I sit in the tub for as long as I can—I’m that person that lies under the water like a fish in the ocean.

Skin saviors: First, I clean my skin with sweet almond oil, then I put a hot cloth over my face for a bit. Afterward, I’ll do another cleanse with Drunk Elephant’s Juju Bar and Bioderma Micellar Water. I use Ren’s Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Toner, Mad Hippie’s Vitamin C Serum, Drunk Elephant’s Lala Retro Whipped Cream, and then top it off with a rose hip oil.

Best bed: My tie-dyed sheets from Suku Home make me so happy. I keep my bedroom pretty toned down, so they’re the pièce de résistance in the middle of it. 

Moment of calm: I was born in Japan and every time I go back, I visit my favorite store in Kyoto, Kyukyodo. It’s where I buy incense, which is very spiritual for me. I keep an altar in two rooms in my house that are for my ancestors and family. In the morning and at night, I light the incense and some candles and say a little prayer—it’s something I’ve done my whole life. Now that I have my own home, I prioritize it to give my day structure. 

Sleep ease: I spray a floral essence twice on my tongue if I’m worried I’m going to have a hard time falling asleep. It totally works, even if it’s just a placebo. 

Required reading: I’ve been thinking about how I can take control of my time again, and reading has been a big part of that—how annoying is it when you realize you’ve lost another half hour just scrolling on your phone? I’m up to eight or nine books so far this year. It’s important to read what we’re in the mood to read that second, and that can switch from day to day. Some of my recent favorites have been Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House; older Zadie Smith novels like The Beauty Myth and White Teeth; Jhumpa Lahiri’s  Interpreter of Maladies; Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater; Emily Nagoski’s Come as You Are; and Grace Lee Boggs’s The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century.

Write it out: I read until my eyes are about to close, but sometimes I still need something else, so I journal. I like to write down my favorite things that happened that day—it helps to focus on the smaller things, like when I got a free muffin at a coffee shop or shared a laugh with a kid. We have this idea that a successful life should be full of Kodak moments, but life passes us by when we don’t value all these beautiful things that happen on a day-to-day basis. 

Bedtime story: During a difficult time in my life last year, I leaned on podcasts to fall asleep. Now they’re a nice security blanket that makes me feel less alone. I like 99% Invisible—I love Roman Mars’s voice—and Tara Brach’s talks (she’s a mindfulness teacher and all-around legend). She has such a warm sense of familiarity. I’ll always go back and listen to the episodes when I’m fully awake—it’s comforting to hear them again. 

Lights-out at 11 p.m. ideally—but more realistically between midnight and 1 a.m.!

See more stories like this:
Books (Lots of Books) Are Key to Justina Blakeney and Her Family’s Bedtime Routines
Renée Rouleau’s Nighttime Routine Involves Hanging Upside Down
YouTube’s Favorite Yoga Instructor Can’t Fall Asleep Without This Eye Mask

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