While there’s a lot that goes into preparing for a world-best competition, Bowe has only recently begun to recognize the importance of recovery. In fact, she considers maintaining a consistent sleep routine key to her success on the track.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that recovery is just as important—if not more so—than training,” she says.
SELF talked to the elite speed skater, who also served as a team U.S. flag bearer at the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, about her routine and the tech she relies upon to log solid sleep.
Everything I do after dinner is in preparation for a good night of sleep.
I usually eat dinner around 6:00 or 6:30 p.m., and then everything that happens for me after that is about preparing for a good night of sleep. I watch TV, so I am getting some blue light exposure there, but laying on the couch watching TV helps wind me down. As it gets close to 10:00 p.m.,I’ll go upstairs to start my bedtime routine.
I like what I like when it comes to bedtime. Take my Eight Sleep mattress: It does heating and cooling, so it finds an optimal temperature for my body through my different phases of sleep: preparing for bedtime, deep sleep, REM sleep, and then waking up. After a period of time, it learns your sleeping routine, and depending on the temperature in your bedroom, your mattress will adjust accordingly.
I rely on some products to help me wind down.
After a tough day, I’ll get into an epsom salt bath. I put some lavender oil in there. I typically use Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt in a few different combinations, and especially enjoy the lavender. I’m definitely a bath person—I take a couple baths a week to wind down.
I’m an Usana athlete, and the company is based right here in Salt Lake City, so it’s a pretty cool partnership. They have a balm called Calm Response and I put that on my wrist, arms, neck and chest and rub it in. It’s a really relaxing scent.
After really hard training days when my nervous system seems really worked up, I’ll use Pure Rest from Usana, which is their melatonin supplement. I also use this spray from Bath & Body Works called Pillow Mist—it’s actually discontinued, but I got it on Amazon. It’s from their sleep line, and it’s made with lavender, cedarwood, and with different essential oils. I’ll spray that all over my bed.
Then I’ll make sure my humidifier is going next to me. In addition to that, I have an Air Doctor air purifier.
I love tracking my sleep quality through wearable tech.
When I get into bed, I go through eight to 10 minutes of cadence breathing (a form of rhythmic breathing) through my Polar Vantage V2 watch’s serene setting. With cadence breathing, you spend a certain amount of time inhaling and exhaling with a pause between. The watch vibrates on the inhale, so I feel the vibration on my wrist, which indicates a breath in. When the vibration stops, I breathe out. That repeats for whatever amount of time you set it to. Sometimes I will actually fall asleep before I can get through that.