At 10 years old, a little girl entered her first karate class. Eleven years later, on February 16, 2007, she took everything she learned and entered the ring. That little girl is Michelle Waterson, and today, she competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as a mixed martial artist.

Ranked sixth in the women’s strawweight division, Waterson has always had a warrior instinct. But it was only after becoming a mother that she truly had something to fight for. We sat down with Waterson to find out how motherhood has affected her nightly routine – and why sleep is just as important as training.

What’s keeping you up at night right now?

Michelle: The feeling of needing to get everything done, because I’m always doing a million things at once.

Go-to late night snack?

Michelle: Almond milk with chia seeds, agave, and blueberries.

What else do you do in your bed besides sleep?

Michelle: Read, cuddle, meditate, and spend quality time with my husband.

What makes you fall asleep?

Michelle: I fall asleep the easiest when I’ve had a hard day of training and I know I’ve done everything I needed to. Then my mind is clear and I can sleep with ease.

What is your bedtime ritual?

Michelle: I read the little one a bedtime story and give her kisses goodnight. I tell her to dream big so that the next day she can wake up and make those dreams become a reality. Then my husband and I have a couple of hours to ourselves so we usually just hang out and talk about our day. Before I go to sleep, I write in my journal about the things I want to accomplish and the things I have to do the next day. Then I lock all the doors and go to sleep.

How many hours do you sleep?

Michelle: 7-8 hours.

What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Michelle: Feed the dogs, take my medication, and go over my to-do list.

What makes you want to get out of bed?

Michelle: Knowing that I’ll never get this day back and I have to make every moment count.

How does sleep impact your day?

Michelle: It’s just as important to sleep as it is to train. Sleep gives my body the recovery it needs to train harder the next day. When I don’t get a good night’s rest, my body feels it and it’s almost like I’m running on empty.

Why is MMA important to you?

Michelle: Being a professional fighter is important to me because I’m allowed to pursue my passion and get paid for it. Not a lot of people can say that they do what they love. Through fighting, I’ve learned many life lessons that I can pass on to my daughter.

I’m also a strong believer that your actions speak louder than words. It’s important for me to give it my all, so my daughter can see my work ethic through her own eyes.

What’s your favorite life hack?

Michelle: Using failure as a stepping stone to become stronger. To do things even if you’re afraid of failing, because training yourself to persevere is the key to a successful life.

What do you want to be when you wake up?

Michelle: A better version of myself.

What city do you sleep in?

Michelle: Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.   

The views, opinions, and positions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of Tomorrow Sleep LLC, its affiliates or their employees.