June Diane Raphael has let sleep go. For the actress and writer, a full night’s rest has scarcely been attainable since she added “Mother” to her résumé two years ago. Now that she and her husband, comedian and actor Paul Scheer are expecting their second child, sleeplessness is practically a member of the family.
But exhaustion has its upside. Raphael, whose credits include "NTSF:SD::SUV," "New Girl," and the indie comedy "Ass Backwards", says that sleep-deprivation can prove essential to an honest performance. And it certainly hasn’t impeded her productivity: This month alone she’ll appear in Netflix’s "Grace and Frankie" and "Lady Dynamite", in addition to her incredibly popular biweekly podcast "How Did This Get Made?", which she hosts with Scheer and Jason Mantazoukas.
In her own words, here’s Raphael on bedtime rituals, night shoots, and drowning out her son’s screams.
I like to be in bed early. I have a toddler, so I’m up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. everyday. So my need to be in bed by 10 p.m. is quite real.
I can fall asleep pretty quickly, but I’m kind of a crazy person about my rituals surrounding actually getting to bed. Which are really based in skin care. I have about ten different ways to take off all my makeup, including a hot towel warmed up in the microwave. There’s not a speck of anything on my face. There have been a few drunken nights in my past where I’ve fallen asleep and then woken up with my makeup on, and it’s just not an experience I want to repeat.
We’re very big on the ritual for our son, too. He eats dinner, he takes a bath, he has a couple books coming, we snuggle with him for a little while and he goes to bed. It’s much harder now for his wake-ups, because he’s verbal. Yesterday morning he was yelling at 5:30 a.m. — “Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up!”
It was easier when he was just crying. When you’re hearing the words “Get up,” it’s hard to not get up. But I will say he’s a pretty good sleeper.
My husband and I were strong believers in “No TV in the bedroom” — until we had a child. And now we have a TV. So things have changed. I’m not proud of it. I need to read more. But when you become the parent of a young child, things just get… hairy. Recently I’ve been trying to get through "The Americans", which is amazing, and as I’m falling asleep, I’m angry that I’m asleep. I’m fighting so hard.
I’ve never been someone who’s really crazed without sleep. Of course it’s great to have a full night’s sleep, but I also think that after becoming a mom, those days are gone. They are so long gone. I’ve let sleep go as an idea. The expectation that it’s gonna happen, or that I might be able to sleep until 7 a.m. tomorrow, is gone. And I’m actually much happier now that I’ve let that go. I can function!
Sometimes working and performing without sleep can help. There’s a certain layer of vulnerability — you’re sort of with the world, you can cry on command, you’re just cracked out. You might look like shit, but in terms of giving a great performance, I do feel that sometimes if I’m very tired, it can make me more available. You just don’t have the capacity to put any walls up.
I’ve been told I talk in my sleep. I wish someone would videotape it. I’m so curious what I would say.
I’ve definitely had the experience of waking up and feeling angry with someone, like a dear friend, over something that happened in a dream. But I can’t remember the last time I had a dream. I feel like that’s a very sad statement about my life.
Night shoots are hard for me. I feel real weird. Like a weird vampire. I just don’t function that well staying up late — there’s just sort of a haze over people. And, look, I did many all-nighters in my twenties, partying, but that’s totally different. Working at night and doing night shoots… actors, we have amazing lives, but that’s something that’s hard. It’s hard because everyone’s tired, the crew’s tired, everyone’s exhausted, but as actors you have to be onscreen pretending to not be exhausted.
My bedside table? This is so sad. There’s a giant roll of toilet paper. That’s because I’ve been meaning to buy more boxes of tissues and I just haven’t. I’m getting over a cold. There’s a sound machine, because sometimes in the morning when I’m pretending not to hear our son screaming “Get up,” I’ll put on the sound machine to try to drown out the noise. Which of course I can still hear through. But it feels better on the soul.