Sleep, Meditation-App Founder Shares Morning Routine

  • Yunha Kim is the founder of a meditation app as well as a program that emphasizes sleeping well.
  • Insider heard from her that she started sleeping badly after working up to 14 hours in lockdown.
  • Now, she wakes up at 5 am to do yoga and stretches before getting into “high-level strategic work”.

This essay is as-told to be based on a transcription of Yunha Kim’s conversation about her morning routine. It has been edited for clarity and length.

My morning — and evening — routines used to be very different when I had insomnia in 2020. I was unable to go to work so I worked on Simple Habit, a wellness application. It took me anywhere between 12 and 14 hours per day. There was no difference between home and work.

Startup founders found it difficult because things were constantly changing. It was so bad that I was forced to take sleeping pills one time.

I would wake up feeling super groggy and like I was hungover. 

I’d then drink so much caffeine, which impacted my ability to fall asleep — and it just became a vicious cycle. 

So I tried to register for a clinic that offered sleep therapy to get some help. But the wait list was long — over six months. Sleep Reset, a sleep-clinic app, was born. I’ve kept the practices I learned through my experience.

Because I go to bed at 8-9 p.m., people call me grandma. Your nighttime routine is the basis of your body’s morning routine. My morning routine is affected if I do things differently at night. 

My experience taught me that eating within three hours of your bedtime will make it more difficult to fall asleep. Your body is busy processing food while you sleep so eat before you go to bed. I used to eat dinner at 8 p.m. with my husband before going to bed at 9:59 p.m.

I couldn’t sleep, as my body was still processing all the food. Now, I have an early dinner — between 5 and 6 p.m.

I don’t work after dinner anymore. It was difficult for me to fall asleep after working until bedtime. To get my body in tune and my mind relaxed, I practice restorative yoga before going to bed.

I get up at 5 a.m. It is important that I get up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. If I don’t, I’m giving myself jetlag.

My partner is a night-owl and wakes up late. Fortunately, I wake up naturally and don’t have to wake my partner up.

My first thing is to drink water. I mix hot and room-temperature water together.

It helps me to soothe my acid reflux. Drinking water signals my body that it’s time for me to wake up.

After that, I go to my yoga room and stretch and meditate for approximately 15 minutes. After being in bed for eight to nine hours, I try to be more aware and conscious of which parts of my body need to be stretched.

I like to say affirmations when I’m in a depressed mood — but when I’m feeling tired, breathing exercises help a lot.

I try to stretch out and meditate every day, except when I have to run late for something. This rarely happens because I get up so early. Within 30 minutes of waking up, I eat breakfast: usually a cup of coffee and a banana.

Always at the top of my list is “check in with you emotions”. As a founder, CEO, and leader, it is crucial that I control my emotions so they don’t spill over into the company’s meetings.

To feel more positive, I also think of one thing that I am grateful for.

I’m in the digital realm at 5:30 a.m.

I love to get started on work immediately because it’s when my brain is the most rational and when I am usually in a good mood.

During this time, my phone is off the hook. I start with more high-level strategic things, like reviewing the product roadmap — things that actually require a lot of brainpower. I avoid tasks such as approving invoices and checking emails.

I will listen to music with no lyrics, sometimes a Spotify playlist of smooth-jazz music, and often Odesza music, which I like.

After three hours of deep-focus, I go outside to walk my dog to ensure I get enough light exposure.

I usually have around five hours alone time on weekends before my husband wakes up. I might read, do laundry or take a bath.

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