In our Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.
Most American audiences met Yeri Han only this year, through the emotional and enchanting Minari. The film tells the story of a South Korean immigrant family that moves to rural Arkansas in the 1980s (and is inspired by director Lee Isaac Chung’s own life). Playing young mother Monica, Han anchors the film with her “quiet strength and layered performance,” as Harper’s Bazaar describes it, earning her glowing reviews and an Independent Spirit Awards nomination.
Minari is just the latest triumph in Han’s accomplished acting career. The Seoul-based actor has been dazzling viewers and critics of South Korean film and TV for years, starring in action movies, independent rom-coms, and biopics. Han also dances and sings beautifully—she contributed two songs to the Oscar-nominated Minari soundtrack, including the lead single, “Rain Song.” (Minari also picked up five other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.)
Han genuinely loves the work that she does, and it’s what motivates her to take such good care of herself. “It’s gotten so important as I’ve gotten older for me to be able to do what I love, including acting,” Han tells SELF. “So it’s inevitable that I take care of myself in order to do the things that I enjoy.”
When she hops on a Zoom call with SELF (along with a translator) to talk about her practical approach to self-care, Han is speaking from Los Angeles, where she’s staying for the Independent Spirit Awards and Academy Awards. (Both ceremonies are in-person, pared-down, and modified for COVID-19.) Han told us about the products she packed for a good night’s sleep away from home, her refreshingly simple skin-care regimen, choosing sleep over food, her love of half-baths and mukbang videos, and taking care of her “too sensitive” body.
Every day, I try to do at least some light stretching before going to bed.
As I get older, I feel like if I do stretching, my body feels better—not as much stress. So if I do stretching before I go to bed, the next morning I feel lighter and I can wake up better. I do it for about 30 minutes on a yoga mat. I stretch from top to bottom, from head to toe. Before that, I do about three sets of my tummy exercises. Not to the extent that it hurts me, but just enough to tighten my muscles. Because it’s time to go to bed, so I don’t want to do it too hard. Just enough to make my body warm.
Sometimes I take half-baths with salt, soaking half my body. I do it after stretching, and I do it about twice a week, mostly at night. I bought a tub for a half-bath, because I love it so much. It’s a tub that makes me soak half of my body only. The salt that I use for the bath, every time I travel abroad, I carry it with me. Even this time, I carried it with me.
My face tends to be dry, so I make sure that I put on enough moisturizer.
Especially in the winter time, I try to put on quite frequently a water-based cream. Every season, I use one or at most two items that fit my skin the best, and I try to focus on those only. In the summertime, instead of putting a lot of different items on my face, I do a “diet” on my makeup and skin care. And I try not to touch anything or put anything on my face on days off, because while working we put makeup on all the time, and we retouch. Faces need a rest too.
Sisley items have been really good to me, so I use their items, including their eye cream. And Estée Lauder, maybe because they’re geared towards slightly older women compared to Sisely. Their balance between a water and oil base is good to me.
I scrub my face just about once a week. I used to use oil-based cleansing foams, but they troubled my face. So I use milk washes. It’s a Korean product. I lightly put it on my face, rub it around, and then rinse off my face. And body lotion I put on a lot, especially at night. My skin tends to be dry. Especially in the winter time—I shower with water only.
At home, I tend to fall asleep fine, so I don’t have any special setups in my bedroom. But if I move around to a location, it’s a little more challenging.
I don’t take sleeping pills whatsoever. I try to do things that make me fall asleep, especially when I’m shooting. I pack the items that make me fall asleep—aromas and diffusers that help me. And there are times where pillows are so uncomfortable that I can’t fall asleep, so pillows are important. Sometimes I bring my own pillows.
L’Occitane Cocon de Serenite Relaxing Pillow Mist
This soothing blend of essential oils includes notes of lavender, mandarin, and bergamot.
I have a L’Occitane spray diffuser. At first I wondered, How much comfort is it going to give me? It’s shown to be effective for me. The scent of it makes me calm down and relax, and easily fall asleep. When I travel, I carry it with me. Especially when I’m traveling for shooting, I definitely pack it. At home sometimes, too, when I’m having a hard time falling asleep, I use it.
Then I fall asleep, after watching my mukbang videos.
I know I ought to sleep right away, but I have to confess that I watch about five different videos on YouTube. In my bed, on my cell phone. I can’t stop it! Have you heard of mukbang? I don’t know why I watch them, but I have to watch them. I just automatically watch those mukbang videos before I go to sleep. Maybe they make me calm.
I’m a sensitive sleeper.
I tend to sleep late, so I start my routine at around 11 p.m., and by 1 a.m. I hope to sleep. I used to sleep fine even going to bed at 4 a.m., 5 a.m. But I try to be more regular in my sleep, and I try to sleep earlier. Because when I’m filming I cannot control the sleeping time schedule. So at least when I’m not shooting, I try to stay on schedule.
I tend to wake up in the middle of the night. Because I’m a light sleeper, sleeping is important to me. When I don’t sleep well, the next day things don’t go very well. So doing stretching, drinking warm water, moisturizing my body—all of these are the things that I do to keep myself sleeping well.
I try to keep my home at most 24 degrees Celsius, because anything hotter makes my home dry. I try not to make my home too hot, and turn on the humidifier, especially in the summertime. I feel like I might have died early if I were born in the past. I’m too sensitive! I’m not a sensitive person, but my body is sensitive and makes it hard for me.
In Korea, we believe that everyone has a different body type. Sleeping actually is very important for my body type.
Some body types, what they eat is more important compared to sleeping. Because sleeping is so important to the type of body that I have, when I’m shooting for example, I try to focus on sleeping more than eating. I try to sleep at least seven hours, seven to eight hours every day.
Knowing your body type and your body’s “personality,” should I say, is important. My body doesn’t like cold things. Every morning, as soon as I wake up, I try to drink water that’s close to body temperature. I try not to eat cold foods throughout the year.
Some people as they get older, they get softer—their muscles get softer, their overall body gets softer. But some people get harder, a hardened body, and I’m the latter kind. My body gets harder as I age. So I try to stretch, and I try to drink a lot of water, and not to have excessive exercise—just a little bit of cardio activity that makes me sweat.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.