Mollie McGlocklin’s wake-up call came in the middle of a visit to Rome. She was with a tour group at the Colosseum when she was suddenly overcome by a panic attack—debilitating fear, pounding heart, feeling like she couldn’t breathe.
Even in the midst of a terrifying episode, she was able to piece together a possible trigger: Topping off a long stretch of insomnia she had barely slept in the last 3 days.
Looking for a way forward to solve her sleep issues, she worked with doctors, read books, tried hypnosis among many other things. Her road to wellbeing was long and arduous, but like a victorious gladiator from ancient Roman times she says she’s “not only surviving but thriving with my sleep.” I am “living proof that anyone can transform their sleep habits without pills.”
Mollie is committed to sharing her knowledge with others via her weekly newsletter and on her Sleep Is a Skill podcast, where she is regularly joined by renowned experts from the sleep world who share their back stories, expertise, and resources.
Naturally we wanted to ask Mollie about her current sleep stack, so we reached out. And she obliged.
What is your current sleep routine?
I've been traveling a lot recently, so my sleep routine has been grounded in the familiar to help minimize the "first night effect," which can result in disrupted sleep architecture thanks to a new and unfamiliar environment.
As an antidote to this, I like to pack my usual: pajamas, red motion lights, orange/red-blue blockers, eye mask, sound machine, and mouth tape. I'm used to sleeping in icy temperatures, so I try to make the room as cold as humanly possible. I love a hot shower or bath, so I often do this in the hours leading up to bed, which counterintuitively helps cool the body down. Nearing about an hour before bedtime, I aim to help my mind unwind, relax, and feel safe before bed versus getting overly activated. So I avoid as much [stimulation] as possible in the forms of intense articles, charged conversations, exciting new Netflix shows, etc. Instead, I layer in more relaxing nightly [routines and] topics, like calming book content. Finally, I close out my night with a gratitude list — a streak I've been on for 2445 days and counting! This primes my mind for what is working versus what is not working.
What would you say is the most important part of your sleep stack?
Ensuring that I organize my 24 hours to fit into Day Mode and Night Mode. In Day Mode, I expose myself to morning sunshine outside and plenty of sunlight throughout the day. In Night Mode, I expose myself to dim light post-sunset and ample darkness in the bedroom. This one small reframe does a lot of the heavy lifting in teaching my body to maintain a strong and balanced rhythm of morning cortisol and evening melatonin production.
What's the one piece of advice you'd give to someone who wants to improve their sleep, or sleep routine?
First, understand that sleep has become a skill set in our modern society. We are often unaware of how much our routine behaviors have deviated from our ancestors’. Get curious about what you do for a third of your life and what you can do to improve it.
Why are you excited about the future of sleep?
Sleep in our modern society is broken. New wearable sleep technology is helping to shine a light on just how far we've strayed from rich nightly rest. As a result, sleep is finally primed to become [recognized] as one of the most foundational elements in our quest for wellness, not just a brief afterthought following nutrition and exercise. With a growing understanding of sleep's role in our health and wellbeing, paired with new and exciting research in the world of chronobiology, this is an area ripe for disruption.