How Melissa Leong Stays Energized Despite 4.30am Wake-Up Calls
Welcome to Bedtime Stories, an interview series where we ask inspiring individuals to share their nighttime routine and sleep secrets – from the beauty products they can’t live without to the tricks they swear by when they’re too tired to function (no coffee needed). For this installment, food and travel writer, TV host, radio presenter and MasterChef Australia judge Melissa Leong takes us through the routine that helps keep her energized despite 4.30am wake-up calls.
Being the first female MasterChef Australia judge is no easy feat, and yet Melissa Leong has achieved it. Adjusting to 4.30am wake-up calls when you're naturally a night owl is a difficult task, and yet Melissa Leong has achieved it. Identifying and overcoming burnout is extremely challenging, and yet Melissa Leong has achieved it. Is there anything this icon can't do?
Leong's appointment as a MasterChef Australia judge was the breath of fresh air we needed, especially during the year that was 2020. It was watching her charisma, intelligence, and confidence on-screen that reassured us there was still exciting things to live for while a global pandemic unraveled around us.
Aside from the apt timing of it all, it's rare to come across someone as buoyant and tenacious as Leong. She juggles her TV stint alongside being a radio presenter and food and travel writer as well, so she's truly no stranger to hard work.
So, how does she make her busy schedule look like a breeze, all while looking after her physical and mental health?
For Leong, it's her persistent desire to be an outstanding role model that helps her get out of bed in the mornings and work the long, tiresome hours her job demands. But a solid sleep schedule, a grounded skincare routine, and a healthy relationship with food and wellness are definitely starters.
Bed Threads Journal sat down with Australia's food critic idol to find out the secrets that keep her thriving and glowing.
Hi Melissa! Welcome to Bedtime Stories. Can you walk us through your bedtime routine?
It really depends on the day. If I’m filming MasterChef or have a shoot the next day, then I’m in bed as early as I possibly can. I’m naturally a night owl, so it’s taken a few years to adjust to the new normal, but I am so fine with being in bed by 8.30pm if it means the proper amount of zzzs before a big day.
What sleep or beauty products do you swear by that you won’t go a night without?
My mother instilled the importance of a solid skincare routine from a young age. I love the ritual of it; it helps me wind down at the end of a long day. At night, a proper cleansing routine is key, especially when you wear as much makeup as I do for work. I oil cleanse and alternate a glycolic/lactic acid serum with retinol, and eye cream is a must. I’m also a fan of my LED light mask for that extra glow and skin recovery.
What is your solution for those nights you simply can’t nod off to sleep?
Melatonin is always by my bedside for nights where I can’t easily get to sleep, and I’m a fan of Buddhify; a meditation app that has a few guided meditations for when sleep is hard to come by. I'm also trying audiobooks.
What time does your alarm go off in the morning?
If I’m working, anywhere from 4.30am. We pull huge days at work, and our makeup artist and I are often the first to arrive on set.
I like to start with a mug of hot water with lemon to get some hydration in while I’m getting my hair done, and I usually do a round of NuFace; a nifty microcurrent device that helps wake up the skin and banish puffiness around my eyes, which is where my fatigue shows most. Then, I like to take my time to massage in a serum and a moisturizer with sunscreen, before makeup gets applied.
Jock usually turns up around then and makes coffee for us all. Then it’s a quick bite to eat to get the appetite started, and it’s game on.
What are three things (besides coffee) that help when you’re too tired to function?
1. Sleep. It is the most important restorative thing we can do for ourselves.
2. A magnesium bath. I’m currently living in a house that has a tub and I take full advantage of it when I’m tired. Two cups of magnesium salt flakes, light a candle, and read a book.
3. I’m big on vitamin supplements - Vitamins B, C and D, magnesium, and zinc. They’ve helped me recover from burnout and continue to help me through the most grueling parts of my work schedule. Find a good integrative doctor and get on it.
What do you normally eat for breakfast to kick start your day?
My day often revolves around a lot of food, so I don’t eat a lot first thing. Enough to get my digestion fired up is enough. I will usually have an egg with some avocado, mushrooms, or some other kind of vegetable on the side. I just focus on protein, good fats, and a little bit of fiber because who knows what else the day will throw at me?