Millennial Sleep Diary: The 32-Year-Old Social Influencer With Unusual Hours

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Millennial Essay 1 by a social media influencer in Brooklyn

Along with our survey on millennials and their unique sleeping habits and challenges, reporter Jamie Smith spoke to three millennials about their typical schedules and strategies. Here, Alex Frankel, 32, from Brooklyn, NY, a late-to-bed influencer with unusual working hours, walks us through how he manages to get enough sleep despite keeping his own schedule. Read our essay from a 33-year-old millennial mom from Omaha here, and another with a 40-year-old Chicago lawyer, for more insights. And make sure to check out our millennial-specific sleep tips!

I am a 32-year-old opera singer, music teacher, model, influencer, and founder of Hot Fat Guy Club. My platform is for anyone who wants to challenge conventional beauty standards. I want to promote body positivity and show that you don’t need to be skinny and have abs to be attractive.

My days vary, but I typically walk my dog Simon for 30 minutes to an hour, then come home and make breakfast and coffee. After that, I like to write three pages of stream-of-consciousness thoughts, respond to emails, and make some TikTok videos. In the afternoon I go live on TikTok to practice singing for an hour. Many singers prefer to practice in private, but I think that’s lonely. Singing live makes me feel like I have people in the room with me. I always practice shirtless, which makes some people upset. I don’t mind because it’s like exposure therapy for me and helps me feel more comfortable with myself. 

Most days I don’t get enough sleep, which is a problem. Lack of sleep makes me very, very cranky. I’m no fun to be around when I’m tired, and the speed of my thinking is significantly diminished. When my father died, I didn’t sleep well for almost two months. My late nights were filled with grief and worry. I’ve always been prone to depression and anxiety. Going without enough sleep for so long caused my mental health to get exponentially worse. During the day, I felt as though my brain had been turned into scrambled eggs. I couldn’t concentrate or think clearly. It took me a long time to recover. 

Now, getting enough sleep is incredibly important to me, although it doesn’t always happen. As I get older, I treasure my sleep more and more. I used to be able to function very well by burning the candle at both ends, but I just can’t do it anymore, especially for extended periods of time. 

I usually go to sleep between midnight and 2:00 am, but most nights it’s closer to 2:00 in the morning. I normally wake up between 8:00 and 9:00 am. On a good night, I will get seven or eight hours of sleep, but it’s usually closer to six hours.

My bedroom is on the backside of a Brooklyn brownstone. The brick is very old and very porous. It’s a great house, but my bedroom is cold in the winter because wind and cold air come through the walls. I sleep next to the wall so I am a human shield from the cold for my partner who tends to stay much warmer than me throughout the night. 

When it’s time to go to sleep, I brush my teeth, throw on a sleep shirt, and climb into bed with my partner and our dog. We have a TV mounted on a wall in our bedroom. Most nights we watch TikToks in bed before we fall asleep. My partner and I like to show each other the best TikTok we saw that day, usually something cute or funny. Sometimes I stay up too late going down a TikTok rabbit hole, but I am usually pretty regimented about turning the TV off before it gets too late. I know it’s not great to be on social media before bed, but it’s what I’m used to. I want to put better nighttime rituals into place. For now, this works for my partner and me and we don’t have any plans to change our nighttime routine. 

After turning off TikTok for the night, sometimes I turnover and pass out quickly. However, most nights I have a hard time falling asleep because I have so much on my mind. If you’ve read about it in the news, I’m probably worrying about it. I worry about space nukes, the climate crisis, COVID running rampant, young people getting cancer at record rates, and the economy. I stay up wondering why no one I know can pay their bills. 

I also struggle with self-doubt. I always feel like I’m not doing enough. I perpetually feel like a failure and worry that I’m not living up to my potential. Between singing, teaching, modeling, and running Hot Fat Guy, I have four different careers that all need my attention. It’s impossible to get everything done. Regardless of what my daily goals are, I always feel like I’m not enough. I worry that I’m not pushing myself enough and missing out on opportunities. 

I also worry about money a lot. Sometimes I stay up at night wondering where my next month’s rent is going to come from. I’m a millennial with an opera degree so I’m always worried about how I’m going to pay back my student loans. I also worry about my dog’s health and getting along with my roommates, who can sometimes be annoying. 

When I was in my 20s, I used to masturbate or smoke weed if I had a hard time falling asleep. Now I just scroll through TikTok or grab my dog for some teddy bear snuggles.  

Sometimes I don’t get a good night’s sleep because I wake up in the middle of the night. Some nights I wake up to use the bathroom and fall right back asleep, but other nights I wake up because my acid reflux is acting up. When that happens it feels like there is a volcano in my esophagus and throat and I have a hard time getting back to sleep. I normally sit up for a while while I wait for a home remedy of apple cider vinegar and water to kick in and give me relief. 

When I don’t get enough sleep I take what I call a coffee nap to help get me through the day. Coffee naps combine two of my favorite things and are very effective. When I am ready for a coffee nap I make a cup of coffee, drink it, and then close my eyes for 15-20 minutes. I wake up from my nap just as the caffeine from the coffee is kicking in. The combination of feeling rested from a power nap combined with a jolt of caffeine is amazing and helps me power through days when I’m exhausted. I also try to get some exercise and walk my dog in the sunlight to help me feel more alert. 

Now that I am in my 30s I only go out about once a month. However, when I was in my 20s I stayed up late almost every night going out to clubs and bars. By the time I got home, I would be so exhausted that I fell asleep more easily and slept better. I was too worn out to stay up worrying like I do now. I know I didn’t get enough sleep, but it was worth it.

I think my parents’ generation probably slept better than mine purely because they were less overstimulated than we are today. We have phones that provide a constant stream of dopamine and information. All of that screen time can’t be good for our brains. It definitely impacts my sleep. My parents used to read in a dark room before bed. I’m not an expert, but it seems like that is a better way to doze off. On the other hand, I don’t have kids to think about. Worrying about me probably kept my parents up at night.  

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith

Jamie Davis Smith is an attorney, writer, and mother of four who values a good night's sleep. She loves exploring her hometown of Washington, DC, and beyond.

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