"I've always been a night owl," confesses Alanis Morissette, the seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer-turned-TV-fixture, who first skyrocketed to international fame in 1995 with her smash debut album, Jagged Little Pill. "I used to think creativity was tied to burning the candlelight until 4 a.m. In the past I've done much of my writing late at night. But I've had to learn that creativity can happen in the middle of the afternoon, too."
This time-swap doesn't come from some newfound desire to become an early bird. Morissette, 36, is in her third trimester of pregnancy -- she's due to give birth to a son with new husband Mario "MC Souleye" Treadway any day now (as of press time), and she finds it physically impossible to keep such late hours anymore.
"My body just shut down," she says ruefully, recalling how, before she was pregnant, a single day might involve developing or working on multiple television acting projects (Weeds, Nip/Tuck); laying tracks for a new album; writing her first book (philosophical musings meet photo-essay travelogue); lending her famous face to any number of charities -- the environment, eating disorders, Haitian rescue); training to run another marathon (she's competed in two); touring the chat show circuit (she guested on Chelsea Lately on E! last August); and, to top it off, "returning those 43 phone calls" -- all the while playing devoted newlywed.
Of course, long before she added "slash actor slash author" to her rock star résumé, she was jamming across the world in packed arenas and nightclubs before cheering fans, which any performer can tell you is a virtual setup for a bad night's sleep.
"It's not unusual for me to be up in the middle of the night," Morissette agrees. First, there's the adrenaline rush of the show itself. Next are the jubilant hours afterward spent winding down, often with post-midnight meals that take time to digest. Finally, there's sleeping on a crowded tour bus between destinations.
"I've had a problem with insomnia for awhile," Morissette admits, adding that the discomfort of late-stage pregnancy has only compounded the condition. And while she's pretty Zen about it -- "I've surrendered to the experience" of pregnancy -- she's been forced to reevaluate her nights, and days.
Establishing New Sleep Habits
It's not a matter of simply snapping your fingers to change established habits, says Jodi Mindell, PhD, associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, even if the singer is no longer on the road. "But it's never too late to establish a new bedtime routine," she says.
Morissette did just that. Gone are the days of penning lyrics or working on her book while the rest of the world sleeps. Now she heads to bed earlier, at the same time each night, a ritual Mindell recommends.
Morissette also feasts on protein and some fruit about an hour before retiring, another trick Mindell suggests. More advice from Mindell: Make your bedroom a sanctuary, decorate it in soothing or neutral colors, and keep the room temperature on the cool side.
Above all -- toughest perhaps for self-described "workaholics" like Morissette -- for a good 60 minutes before hitting the sack, "stay away from all kinds of electronics -- computers, iPads -- which only stimulate the brain."
"I still wake up at 3 a.m.," laughs Morissette. "If I toss and turn too long I will get up for awhile, and do something productive for an hour or two. I'm lucky, though. When I go back to bed, I can just shut off the alarm clock -- then sleep as late as I like."