Antoni Porowski will talk you to sleep — in a good way
The Queer Eye host tells us how he unwinds before bed and why he jumped at the chance to voice a sleep podcast
Antoni Porowski is a man of ritual. Whether he's preparing for sleep or a long day of filming, the Montreal-born Queer Eye host practises a repertoire of activities designed to calm the nerves and steady the mind. It's a habit that served him especially well in his most recent professional endeavour: narrating the Canadian Audible Original Sleep Sound with Antoni Porowski. After all, it takes a relaxed voice to lull people into a restful sleep.
Earlier this month, I had the chance to speak with Porowski about his nighttime routine, the "shameless" boundaries he sets to ensure a good night's sleep, the snacks he reaches for before bed and how his hometown served as the perfect inspiration for his favourite Sleep Sound episode. Here's what he had to say.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What's your ideal amount of sleep, and how do you set yourself up to get it?
Eight hours is the ultimate dream, so I do my very best by, like, 10 p.m. to start my whole ritual. It starts with skin care and then a nighttime meditation practice whenever I can. That said, when I don't get eight hours — if I'm filming and if I'm really busy or something's going on — I try to be gentle with myself and tell myself, "Alright, you're only going to get six hours today, but that's OK because you have other nights where you can get eight hours." But I do my very best to get that, especially because I'm not physically capable of napping during the day, so nighttime is really the only time I get to have sleep.
I imagine travelling for work must disrupt that from time to time, too. Do you have to set certain boundaries to ensure you get enough rest?
I try to be easygoing in every aspect of my life, but when I need "me time," just to kind of unwind… that's something that's incredibly important to me, and I try to be shameless about that.
I'm a granny grazer; 7 p.m. is the latest I do dinner. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but I do my best to try to practise that whenever I can. And I always explain to people, "Look, I don't mean to be rude, but I need my eight hours of sleep." I like to have my nighttime ritual; I want to spend my last 20 minutes of the day on the couch with my dog before she goes to bed and I go to mine, you know?
Life's short and my sleep is important.- Antoni Porowski
Life's short and my sleep is important. If I don't sleep well, I'm not going to function well the next day. I'm going to be all over the place. I'm going to be scatterbrained. I'm already somebody who suffers from sporadic bouts of anxiety. I don't need anything else adding on to that.
What inspired you to record a sleep aid podcast?
Full disclosure: This is something that I weirdly have daydreamed about doing for a very long time. I can't explain why. It's just something that I wanted to do … [there was] something about being in a studio for eight to 10 hours. It was a long time, but I wanted the challenge.
How did you prepare yourself for it?
I have pretty severe ADHD, so staying focused and setting myself up to have a relaxing day was important. I didn't want to stress my vocal cords, so I had my ginger-lemon tea with honey in the morning. I didn't have too much caffeine so that I wasn't too wired. I also made sure to wear comfy clothing; all that kind of stuff was really important to me.
I also meditated longer that morning than I normally do. I did a solid 20-minute meditation where I just focused on my breathing and feeling like I was actually in my body and not thinking about all the things that I can't control in my life.
What was the recording process like?
I like anything that's a challenge — [even though] there's always something that's a little terrifying about it. I'm afraid of so much in my life, but I really get off on leaning into the fear and seeing what's on the other side of it. And as somebody who is pretty heavily caffeinated during the day and very on-the-go — which I really enjoy — I wanted to kind of counter that with something that was just a little different, where I had to really be in the moment and be present.
Did you have any trouble trying to find your best soothing voice to promote relaxation?
[At first,] I was speaking a lot quicker than I needed to, and I was a little more emphatic than I needed to be. But [the Audible team] kept on reminding me to slow it down and just relax to the point where, [eventually], a couple of them were starting to doze off! Under any other given circumstance, I would be deeply offended that I was that boring.
I saw that one of the episodes takes place in your hometown. What makes Montreal such a relaxing place for you?
Typically when I go to Montreal, I'm not allowed to stay in a hotel because my stepmom is like, "I have a house and you're staying here, and I'm going to bring you your tarte aux sucre and your sirop d'érable and your cheese curds from the dépanneur." She has this beautiful condo with big windows that overlook the whole city. I'll just curl up there with a big hoodie and sit in a swivel chair that she has and just look up at the city that I love so much. It's very nostalgic.
So when I was recording [the Montreal episode], I actually envisioned [sitting there with] the rolling clouds coming in and the rain falling. There's something so comforting and peaceful about sitting with a roof over your head and being really cosy and dry when there's a big storm going outside. I love the rain; knowing after it showers, the sun comes up. There's this renewal. That was actually my favourite episode to record.
It would be a crime if I didn't talk about food just a little bit while I have you. As Queer Eye's resident food expert, do you have any dos and don'ts when it comes to snacking and still getting a good night's sleep?
I used to always do a bit of pistachio milk and a couple of pieces of dark chocolate with almond butter [before going to bed], but now, for my sweet tooth, I typically have a medjool date with a bit of almond butter and a little flake salt. Otherwise, a little piece of cheese. Definitely nothing that has caffeine in it, that's for sure. And tea is very important.
I also bought these grain-free cookies that are actually really delicious. I dip them into my milk and it reminds me of being a kid. For many of us, being a kid makes us think about being safe and taken care of. And so I would encourage anyone reading this to think about the nostalgia of what you liked as a kid — the equivalent of a bowl of cereal with milk, you know what I mean? That thing that will just kind of put you at ease and make you feel relaxed.