Mamas At Work: Busy Mom Jordin Sparks Needs More Sleep — And To Be The Next ‘American Idol’ Judge

Leon Bennett/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

One thing singer and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks has plenty of is talent. One thing she doesn’t have enough of? Admittedly, time to sleep. Even before Daylight Saving Time came along, springing our clocks forward in time and throwing off rest schedules, the artist was having a hard time catching as many ZZZs as possible. Something that’s been of help in her efforts though, is Unisom. The 34-year-old wife and mother has been utilizing the brand’s products, beloved by doctors, and recently partnered with them to help people fall asleep faster. The busy beauty spoke to ESSENCE about what tends to keep her up late, the importance of being present at home for her 5-year-old son DJ after being “on” to perform and make new music, and if being a judge for American Idol could be up next for the star. We sure hope so!

ESSENCE: As a busy singer, actress and mom, how would you say you’re sleeping? Are you getting a good night’s rest or are there hindrances to that?

Jordin Sparks: I think I sleep when I can. My schedule is pretty crazy. I just pulled a 15-hour day, on top of traveling and different things like that. I feel like sleep is essential and it’s so key, so I try to make the most of my sleep when I get it. The first thing that happens if I don’t get enough sleep is I start to feel really run down and then I can’t do all the things that I need to do, so I think that that is a big part. So, am I sleeping? Yes and no.

How has Unisom helped?

Unisom is great to have on hand to get a good night’s sleep. They have a range of products to help you give it a rest. I love the gummies and my husband loves the SleepGels. With Daylight Saving Time quickly approaching, a good night’s sleep is so important to me to be at the top of my game.

In addition to Unisom, what is your bedtime routine like?

I feel like my son has more of a bedtime routine than I do, but I do try to turn on the white noise machine before I go to sleep. I have a red light that I use as well that kind of helps make the room more prepared for sleep, and then I try to meditate if I can. My brain is always going a hundred miles an hour, so meditation sometimes works, sometimes it doesn’t. But there are days where as soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m knocked out. And then there are days where it takes a little bit longer, but I feel like that’s all of us really. Another thing I have is this lavender magnesium lotion that’s amazing.

How is it balancing family and career?

Ooh, did you say balance? Is that, is that a thing? It’s interesting because I’m one of those people who is all in. Like I’m all or nothing, and I’m not going to halfway do anything. In terms of my family, I try to be 100 percent there for them. In terms of my career, I always want to make sure that I show up, I do what I’m supposed to do, and that I’m 100 percent there as well. I don’t know if balance is a thing that I really know, but I try. I want to be as present as I can when I’m home. As soon as I open that door, all the work stuff is left on the doormat in the front, unless there’s something completely urgent. But I think that’s how I kind of keep my sanity and kind of harmonize everything together, because I feel like if it bleeds in, then that’s when feelings can get hurt, or tantrums can get thrown because the attention isn’t there, so I really try and split that. I know we’re not supposed to compartmentalize, but I’m good at it. But in terms of balance, part of my journey here on Earth is to figure out what balance is for me.

What is a way that you practice self-care that might surprise people to know?

I like this question. Music one, obviously. But self-care is different for everybody, and I feel like it changes constantly. At this point in my life, I know that I need nature. I need to be outside in the sun, or near the water, trees, bees, birds. That really helps to center and recharge me. I also started doing a little cacao ritual in the morning since last summer. It’s similar to somebody who has their tea or coffee in the morning, you know? You sit, you have that first sip and you’re getting ready for the day. But I like to think about affirmations or expressing gratitude for waking up. I think about my family, my ancestors, what I want to do for the day. That’s centering for me all day. And I love to read. I’ve gotten way more into it in the last year. I love knowledge and learning about other people’s perspectives.

I love getting massages. When I started out on American Idol, I was underage, so everybody else when we went on tour was able to go out and stuff but I couldn’t. Every time we had a day off, they would go out and I would try and find a massage therapist. Also just being with my family is a form of self-care for me. They help center me, they help ground me, they make me laugh, they’re supportive, and I’m safe there.

Mamas At Work: Busy Mom Jordin Sparks Needs More Sleep — And To Be The Next ‘American Idol’ Judge
US singer/actress Jordin Sparks and her son Dana Isaiah Jr. arrive for the premiere of “Candy Cane Lane” at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California, on November 28, 2023. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from motherhood?

The biggest lesson so far – because I feel like I’m always learning and I’m always being challenged. If my son is doing something and it’s irritating me, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that he is a mirror. And that there is either something from when I was that age that I either wasn’t allowed to express or do, or something that I’m dealing with now. To be able to see that and then pause and go, oh, it’s not DJ. Whatever is happening right now, I need to figure out what that is first, because I don’t want to have an unnecessary reaction that he doesn’t deserve. We’re human, so it’s not that I never lose my temper, but it’s been really cool to navigate that. I’ve learned so much about myself. But I think that that has been the biggest lesson is that he’s a mirror and he’s really the teacher. I’m just the student. But it’s amazing because he’s technically new here. He’s only been here five years, but he’s taught me so much. And I love hanging out with him. He’s so fun and sweet and cute. Now he’s getting bigger, so that’s going to be amazing to watch because every day is new and different.

What do you have coming up? You also threw your hat in the ring to take Katy Perry’s now vacant spot as judge for the next season of American Idol. Do you think you would be the perfect judge because you won the competition?

I don’t know about perfect, because I don’t know if anybody’s perfect, but I do think if you wanted to shake things up, what better way to do it than somebody who has literally been in their shoes, has been under the pressure cooker, has actually won the show, and then was able to really have a good, successful career? I think I’ve had a successful career, so I think it would be a lot of fun. People asked me early on after Idol if I wanted to ever be a judge. And at the time I told them “No.” I just didn’t feel like I had had enough under my belt to be able to sit and kind of tell someone else what they’re doing. But now, at this point in my life, in my career, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I have a lot to say. I have a lot to give, a lot to share. And I think it would be fun to do that. So, whether it’s this year or the next year, it would be cool to be able to do something like that. I’m going to let the internet do its thing, and we’ll see what happens.

In terms of what is coming up for me, there is so much going on and I’m so grateful I have an overflowing plate. I have a new album coming out, No Restrictions, and that reflects basically where I am in my life as a human, as a woman, wife, mother, artist and friend. I want to be able to spread my wings and fly without something else pulling them down, outside thoughts or opinions and things like that. In terms of the music, there’s a little bit of something for everyone and there’s all the things that I grew up loving within music as well. Like a little bit of country music, there’s a little bit of R&B that you know me for. Some stuff is reminiscent to my early pop music. There’s a little bit of gospel influence, so there’s a little bit of everything. But it came together really cohesively. I cannot wait for you guys to hear that. And then after that, I can’t wait to get on the road and start performing this new music.

I just really feel like I’m stepping into my power into who I am and where I am going, which has been a great place to be in. So, no restrictions.

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