Sleep Series: Sophie Hellyer, open water swimming coach

Sleep Series: Sophie Hellyer, open water swimming coach

We spoke to Sophie Hellyer, event manager, open water swimming coach, yoga teacher and founder of Rise Fierce, a cold water community which empowers women through wild swimming and kinship, helping women slow down, find connection and feel empowered. 

What do your days look like? 

I have a one-year-old and a dog, so it’s normally a mash-up of baby-friendly activities, snot, dog walks, mud, answering emails on the go and squeezing in work whilst the baby naps. 

What do your nights look like?

I normally head to bed nice and early, around 8-9pm if I’m lucky, as our baby still wakes multiple times a night and if I don’t get a couple hours sleep in early I know I’ll be grumpy the next day. I try to make sure I always get my eight hours sleep, even if it is very broken.

What is your pre-sleep routine?

I put my PJs on with the baby’s early evening and I find that helps me mentally get ready for bedtime. After I get the baby to bed, I try not to run around frantically doing chores, and instead will try to keep the pace slow by reading my book or watching an episode of a TV series. I like to turn all the lights down low in the evening and light a few candles, it definitely helps my brain and body realise bedtime is approaching. 

How do you wind down?

I love reading. Phone has to be on airplane mode though or I get distracted scrolling. 

What keeps you awake at night?

A small human that insists on sharing my bed?! Haha. I definitely have nights where my brain is a whirring to-do list of work things that I haven’t had time for in the day. Thankfully it’s not every night, but often the week leading up to a retreat. 

Sophie Hellyer in our Sage Stripe Classic Pyjamas
Sophie Hellyer in our Sage Stripe Classic Pyjamas

How do you manage to switch off from work?

My main “work” is currently raising my son, and I never switch off from that really. The only place I do is in the swimming pool where my brain goes into a bit of a meditative state.  If work work is keeping me awake I use the Headspace app or listen to an audiobook to help me drift back off. 

How do you sleep generally?

I sleep very well considering my son still wakes five times+ a night. I think team work with my partner is key to this. He often does bedtimes so I can get a chunk of sleep in, or he will see to the chores and help with the admin side of my business whilst I sleep if I have an early night. 

What are your views on naps?

Naps are not really for me. I just find it so hard to sleep in the daytime. You won’t catch me asleep between 7am and 7pm unless I’m totally shattered. My circadian rhythm must be too strong! 

What’s your favourite relaxation tip?

Light a candle. Turn the lights down. Get off your phone.

What’s your top sleep tip?

I wear an eye mask, I can’t sleep without it now. 

What do you look for in your sleepwear?

I LOVE good PJs, I spend a hell of a lot of time in them after all. I like long PJ sets as my house is cold, a super-comfy waistband and breastfeeding-friendly also essential. The most important thing is a lovely soft fabric. HONNA feels so luxe! 

Sophie Hellyer in our Sage Stripe Classic Pyjamas
Sophie Hellyer in our Sage Stripe Classic Pyjamas

What’s the first thing you do every morning?

Open the blinds to let the daylight in (although until recently it was still pitch black outside at 7am!). My boy wakes up around 7, then we always open the blind and look out of the window. A couple weeks ago we were greeted out of nowhere with a couple of inches of snow when we woke, what a surprise.

Are you a snoozer? 

Nope. I’m an awake, up and out kind of person. I don’t think I’ve ever snoozed my alarm!

What does self-care look like to you?

Swimming. If I’ve made time to swim, I know I’ve made time for my mind and body and prioritised that. 

What part does nature and being outdoors play in it?

I love wild swimming, sea swimming, cold water immersion, whatever you want to call it. So nature plays a huge part. For the last six years, I went almost daily but I’m really struggling to find that time now I’m a mother, and in reality I only go once a week. But I get outside and walk the dog every morning regardless. I think daylight first thing in the morning is super important. 

What draws you to cold water swimming?

The cold water forces me to stop thinking and start feeling. It calms me and energises me at the same time. I love being immersed in nature; I love the tranquillity; I love the rhythm and repetition of the routine. I can’t wait to get back to going daily. 

How would you describe the benefits and feeling of cold water swimming?

I can preach about it all day long, but just try it. Mostly because it’s fun! It’s so rare, we play as adults. Go play.

Photo credit: Sam Rogers