My Bedtime Routine: Olympic Climber Brooke Raboutou on Sleeping With Stuffed Animals and Working on Her Mental Game

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

Brooke Raboutou spent the early months of quarantine turning her home into a climbing gym—and yes, it’s much more interesting than the YouTube yoga and downstairs-neighbor-friendly cardio workouts many of us explored. In various viral videos, one could watch the professional climber complete an epic version of The Floor Is Lava game at a level only an elite athlete can pull off. In one video, Raboutou maneuvers around her kitchen countertops, hanging upside-down by her fingertips; in another she scales an exposed stone wall in her living room; and in yet another she bafflingly hovers inches off the floor balancing on the molding of her basement wall. Now, 16 months later, Raboutou climbs with slightly higher stakes: The 20-year-old is competing on Team USA in the Tokyo Games, where climbing will make its Olympic debut starting August 3.

Raboutou started climbing when she was just 12 months old. As a child, she was already breaking records—at 11, she became the youngest person in the world to climb a 5.14b—and now she’s making history again both as the first U.S. climber to qualify for an Olympic Games and as a member of the inaugural U.S. climbing team. (For those unfamiliar, climbing grades can be a little complicated, but anything above a 5.13 grade is reserved for elite athletes only.)

When we Zoom in April, Raboutou’s training schedule is intense. “Most of the time, training entails two sessions in a day—so morning and then afternoon,” she says. “One is usually climbing-specific, and one might be more off-the-wall stuff or weights. Or we do this thing called hang boarding for climbers, which just involves working out your fingers since finger strength is so important for climbing.” Each training session lasts about three hours, and she trains five days per week.

“I have a little countdown to the Olympics on my phone,” Raboutou tells me through a giddy smile. “So it’s kind of fun to look at it and be like, ‘Ah!’”

When she’s not competing and training, Raboutou is a student at the University of San Diego, though she took off a semester to train for Tokyo. Prior to the Games, she was based in Boulder, Colorado, where she was born and raised. Raboutou lives with her parents, who are also professional climbers.

It’s been a year and a half since Raboutou qualified for the Games—and now she’s just glad her time is finally here. “I can’t even say it’s sunk in yet,” she says. “Paving the way for so many young girls and other young people in the sport is an exciting place to be. And I’m hoping that I can do the best I can with it.” Here, Raboutou tells SELF about her bedtime routine—including what it’s like to live with her parents, her climbing-proof glam routine, and how she copes with the pressure of being a young and rising star.

I have a lot of stuffed animals from when I was little in every corner of my room.

I feel like I probably don’t need them there anymore, but I love having them. Then, I have a little sign above my bed that says “A star is born” that I got when I was born and it’s been there ever since.

I always brush my teeth and wash my face. All that helps tell my brain that it’s time to go to bed.

I use Aveda’s Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Rich Creme every morning and night. It’s very thick, which is good because my skin is very dry, especially in Colorado. Then I always put on ChapStick, because my lips get really dry too. My skin care is definitely very simple, I would say, but it does the job. When I’m competing, I always like to put on mascara and maybe highlighter. Just a little bit of spice, but I don’t wear much makeup.

Image may contain: Cosmetics, and Bottle

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Intense Hydrating Rich Cream

Image may contain: Marker, and Cosmetics

I just got a puppy, so I always say goodnight to her.

My parents got a chocolate Golden Doodle. She sleeps in my parents’ room, but she’ll come down the hallway and say goodnight to me. I get to snuggle with her for a little bit.

My hands get really thin from climbing a lot, and I sometimes get cuts and bruises.

So I use a product called ClimbOn, which is really good for healing splits and just thin skin overall. I don’t use it every single day, but I always have that on my bedside table. It’s the last thing I would put on before bed so that if I’m touching things, it’s not messy.

I use a massage gun called Addaday, and I love it. [Ed. note: Addaday is a partner of USA Climbing.] I use that a lot on my biceps and forearms, especially because those get really tight from climbing. Sometimes I’ll make my mom do it on my back before I go to bed.

Image may contain: Jar

climbOn The All Purpose Lotion Bar

Image may contain: Dryer, Appliance, Hair Drier, Blow Dryer, and Electronics

Addaday BioZoom Edge Percussion Massager

Recently, before bed I’ve been doing breathing exercises to calm myself down and get my heart rate down.

In the morning as well, I’ll do more energetic breathing, and some affirmations. Just like, “It’s a great day!” Just getting myself into a good mindset for a great day.

I’m not an early riser, so I usually go to bed between 11 and 12.

I usually look at my phone, which I know a lot of people don’t like to do these days. I see what’s going on and then I always put my phone on airplane mode when I go to bed. Then I turn off the lights, close my eyes, and dream about the future.

I like to sleep in if I can.

I probably wake up at about 10, 10:30 if I can. I usually don’t plan my workouts early in the morning because I know that I’m not a morning person. My team makes fun of me—they’re like, “Oh, we could do this at 8 a.m.,” and I’m like, “Or we can do it at 9!” They always say, “Brooke is a sleep hog, she likes her sleep.” It’s true—it’s very important for my sport and my body that I’m rested. A lot of the time I wake up before 10 a.m., but just being in bed and relaxing is also very restful and helps with recovery.

Sometimes I do have to wake up early, and when I have to wake up early, I’m fine with it.

It’s nice to have that sleep bank and know that I’m well rested before that. For competitions, when we have to be there by 6 or 7 a.m. and we’re jet-lagged, I just know I’ve gotten so much good rest before that so it doesn’t bother me.

I’ll probably bring my pillow to Tokyo.

I don’t usually do that to travel, but I know that we’re allowed to bring a lot more of our personal belongings, which is really awesome. Since I have traveled so much, I’ve learned to be easy going and that helps me fall asleep. I’m also lucky that I’m a very good sleeper, but ear plugs are always a must to bring to zone out, along with an eye mask.

It depends where I’m staying, but I like to take a nice bubble bath after a competition.

Just to fully relax. We have a hot tub at home, so that’s kind of my upgraded bath. Or I’ll get my nails done—self-care and pamper myself a little bit. My manicures don’t stay well from climbing, so I always get gel. If I don’t get gel, it’s gone within the day. Gel actually lasts pretty well. Except for speed climbing, which is one of the disciplines that we do where no type of manicure really works for it. I like to have my nails done. Some people don’t like to see their nails on the wall while they’re climbing, but I like it. I’m like, “Ooh, peach!”

I’m definitely a “routines person,” but I’ve also adapted so that if things aren’t going the right way, I can be okay with that change.

As a kid, I had a lot of little superstitions, and I’ve tried to go away from those so that nothing can upset me when I’m getting ready for a competition. Overall that’s been important for me. As a high-level athlete, it’s hard to not feel pressure or stress—but it’s all about the ways that we manage it.

I’ve worked a lot on my mental game in recent years and months and weeks. I think that competition is 80% mental game. Your mind powers your body so it can tell it what to do. So I’ve been working a lot on that, and I feel like that helps relieve stress and anxiety. I climb because I love it. That’s what I always go back to when I’m feeling stressed and pressure from outside expectations or mostly, honestly, my own expectations. I just remind myself why I’m doing this, and it always helps me.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *