My Bedtime Routine: Natasha Hastings on Her Olympic Trials Loss, the Future of Her Career, and Sleeping Like a Champion

In our Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.

The first time I spoke with Natasha Hastings was in April of this year. Back then, she said this summer—the Olympic trials, and hopefully the Tokyo Games—would be her final lap. “I’m ready for the next chapter,” the two-time track-and-field gold medalist told me. “I have done this long enough. I’ll be 35 this summer. I’m ready to move on and watch from the stands now.” But when we connected again—this time in late June, less than a week after she did not qualify for the Olympic team at the track-and-field trials in Eugene, Oregon—her perspective had changed.

“I was very, very sure that this would be my final lap,” Hastings tells SELF. “Now I’m kind of like, I don’t know. But I’m also not feeling a rush to make the decision. I’m sure whatever decision I make, I’m going to be sure of it.” Hastings says she will continue competing in the meets she already had planned for this summer. In the fall she’ll reassess how she feels about the future of her athletic career. “There are two things that I’m thinking about when I think about what I want to do going forward,” Hastings says. “Am I emotionally able to do this again, and am I physically able to do this again?”

That all being said, she certainly doesn’t need an elite track career to keep her busy. The single mom to son Liam, 2, is the founder of the Natasha Hastings Foundation; has a YouTube talk show, Tea Time With Tasha; owns a cosmetics line, Natasha Hastings Beauty; and is currently enrolled at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where she’s earning a degree to become a licensed therapist. Hastings still trains in the weight room three to four times a week and hits the track four to five times a week.

Despite the hectic schedule, the energetic toddler, and the Olympic trials loss, Hastings says she feels, well, good. In fact, maybe better than ever before. Hastings did not make the Olympic team in 2012; she did in 2008 and 2016. Comparing her outcome at the 2012 trials to how she feels today, she says her emotional maturity is what’s changed her perspective. “I’m able to walk away from it,” Hastings says. “And yes, I’m reflecting, and of course I’m disappointed, and I want things to be different, and I really wanted to go to Tokyo, but there’s this odd sense of peace. I think a lot of it rests in knowing that there was nothing else I could do. On that day, I did the best I could with what I had.”

Hastings attributes much of her personal growth to therapy, which she started in 2020. “It’s weird to me that I’m in that space,” she says of her self-acceptance. “I’m like, Who are you? What are you?” Hastings laughs. “One of my overarching themes in therapy—or the thing that I constantly ask for or have been seeking for—is peace. So now I have peace, but I guess I got so used to chaos that I’m like, Oh, wait, what is this peace here? It’s kind of interesting, but I like it.”

Below, Hastings tells SELF more about her self-care and sleep routines as a mother, student, and elite athlete who competes around the world—and one who has a big journey ahead. “I’m really excited about moving on to the next chapter of my life,” she said at the end of our first conversation. “I’m really focused on being a mom, finding new love. Put that in there—maybe my future husband might read the article.”

Most of my free time is after my son goes to bed at night.

It’s a struggle. I saw this post on social media the other day like, “I could go to bed earlier, but that’s my only free time without my kids.” I’ll take being tired so that I can have a little bit of free time. Also, I am a single mom. We alternate weekends with his dad. So when I have those weekends off, I try my best to make use of it for myself. Whether it’s just going for a drive or gardening—I’ve picked up gardening in the pandemic. But whatever little pockets of time that I can find, I take—even if it’s just 15 minutes to really be intentional about doing something for me.

My son is a pretty good sleeper. He does sleep through the night.

We have some off nights here and there. He started daycare a few weeks ago, so we had a stomach bug, and that will come up in the middle of the night. He’s a toddler, he’s a human being, so every now and again, we’ll have a night like that. But for the most part, he’s pretty good at night.

The first thing I do when my son is asleep is pull up YouTube.

Lately I find I am more of a YouTuber than a watcher of actual TV. The interesting thing is I am a reality TV fan, but lately I’ve come across these YouTubers that review the shows, and I find that I’m actually watching those more than watching the actual show. It’s interesting to hear the breakdown of the shows, and the commentary seems to be more enjoyable than actually watching the shows. I also love murder, like Snapped. And last week was Serial Killer Week on one of the stations. I get into those types of things.

When I first got back into school, I used to think, Oh, when my son goes to bed, I’ll do my homework. Nope.

When he goes down and I crawl in bed, I don’t have the brain capacity to do work. So I’ve had to learn to not dedicate that time to getting the work done because it’s not going to happen. It’s truly my YouTube/TV time. I love Housewives. I was disappointed in Atlanta this season. It felt like the storyline was dragged out, but Andy’s telling us that COVID-19 had things a little wonky. So I have to be forgiving of that. Now I watch the New Jersey Housewives. I’m super excited for Beverly Hills to come back. I’m dying to hear Erika Jayne’s story. I was really into Tyler Perry’s Sistas on BET. Wednesday nights were like, I couldn’t wait to put the baby down, get in bed with a glass of wine, and enjoy Sistas.

I go back and forth between using two skin-care lines.

I use Fré Skincare, which is a skin-care line that’s formulated for athletic skin, or skin that sweats. They have a cleanser, several moisturizers, a spritzer, a toner, and a detox mask for post-workouts that I like a lot. I also use another brand called Sei Bella. I go between their rose oil, the treatment masks I use a couple of times a week, and then there’s a vitamin C line. I especially like their nighttime cream because it’s super thick and moisturizing. I have travel-size versions of all of my skin-care products, so that way my toiletry bags are always packed.

Fré Skincare Detox Me Post-Sweat Clearing Mask

Fré Skincare Purify Me Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Sei Bella Honey & Rose Bi-Phase Recovery Oil

Sei Bella Honey & Rose Overnight Recovery Cream

I am probably passed out by 9 or 10 p.m.

I’m not up that late because by the time I get to bed, I usually am pretty exhausted from the day of training. Then, when I get home from training, there really is no downtime. I’m busy being a mom and then getting homework done and responding to emails. Literally, I probably make it through one or two episodes of TV and I’m out. So I’m boring in that sense. I just go straight to sleep after getting that show in.

I sometimes fall asleep in my Normatec boots.

Those compression boots are the best, especially because I can just put them on and forget it and multitask. I love my Hypervolt gun and their vibrating roller. I’m obsessed with those products. Sometimes if I’m just watching TV, I’ll roll out with the roller. The gun I use more at practice than at home.

NormaTec Pulse 2.0 Leg Recovery System

Hypervolt Bluetooth Percussion Massage Device

Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Foam Roller

When I’m overseas, sometimes I’ll take some melatonin to help me fall asleep, especially when I’m trying to get adjusted to the time difference.

Or sometimes before I leave, I’ll try to start getting on the time difference of where I’m going. Depending on my race time, I might not even try to adjust. So if I have a race in China that’s at 9 p.m. their time, I might just stay on the same sleeping pattern that I would have been on if I was home. Adjusting to a time difference takes a toll on your body, especially when you’re trying to get adjusted in a short period of time. So sometimes it’s more beneficial to just stay on your home time schedule.

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