When Austrian graphic designer Verena Michelitsch moved to New York City, she quickly got the sense that no one around her was getting enough sleep. "Everyone around me was working like crazy and bragging about how few hours of sleep they would need," she says. "I got the impression that no one appreciated sleep enough." So, she created an online magazine dedicated to it.
In Sand & Such, Michelitsch features individuals in their bedrooms and asks them questions about their own sleeping habits, preferences, and routines. "We started interviewing creative people just because many of my friends are creatives," Michelitsch says. "Many of them have side projects going on, and I was wondering how they managed to work on so many projects at the same time and get enough sleep."
"I really love the morning. I think it's really inspiring to have a fresh day ahead of you—you can go for walk or for run when it's not busy outside yet." –Verena Michelitsch
What she found was that when asked, people were willing to talk about their most particular and intimate sleeping patterns."One friend said she needs 10 hours of sleep," Michelitsch says. "She has such a crazy output of work so that it seemed to me like she must always be awake, but that's not the case at all. She just gets so much energy from sleeping that she works like a maniac during the day. People have a whole range of sleeping patterns, and it's different from continent to continent, from city to city."
When paired with beautiful photography, the interviews give off a soothing, voyeuristic look into an activity everyone does, but not everyone talks about. Sand & Such makes bedtime look more enjoyable than ever.
Here, Michelitsch answers some of the questions about sleep that she typically poses to her subjects on Sand & Such.
Are you more of a night owl or early bird?
I became an early bird over time. I really love the morning. I think it's really inspiring to have a fresh day ahead of you. You can go for walk or a run when it's not busy outside yet. I get most of my work emails done in the morning—the annoying part of work. I can get a lot of stuff done in the morning really well. But for more creative things—illustration projects that I'm working on, or Sand & Such—I like to work at night. For things that aren't to-do-list-like, when I need to put my brain into the creative process a bit more, I prefer to work at night.
How did you become a morning person?
I think at first, you have to force yourself into it. For me, it just happened as I got older. If you want to become a morning person, just try it out and force yourself to get up early. I know that there are also people who just don't function in the morning, who say, "I really need two hours to get my brain up to speed to talk or write emails." But for me, I just get up and after 15 minutes, I'm totally ready to answer to emails and have that kind of energy in the morning. It's different for different people, but it's always worth a try. Get up at the same time every day and try to go to bed earlier.
"It helps to set the mood, turn the lights down, and maybe light some candles. Even if you still watch TV before bed, it's good to slow down and relax."
What rituals do you like to do at night and in the morning?
In the past month, I've tried to not keep my phone in my bedroom and stay away from any electronic devices, and read a book instead. That really helped me, because even if I tried to read on the phone, I'd always get distracted. The blue light from the phone is really bad for melatonin production, so it makes falling asleep hard. In the morning, I make coffee at home or go outside to get a coffee, and then go for a short walk.
Do you have any tricks for falling asleep?
I have a bedtime tea and herbs and all of these things. I always try to avoid sleep medication. I look into more natural products, like lavender. It helps to set the mood, turn the lights down, and maybe light some candles. Even if you still watch TV before bed, it's good to slow down and relax.
What is your ideal sleeping situation?
When I first began Sand & Such, I started looking into a good mattress and good sheets. I like it to be really dark, so I love to sleep anywhere in the countryside where it's really quiet and peaceful. I also love sleeping outside, or half-outside—when you can have the windows open and are surrounded by nature.