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Image / Editorial

What is ‘clean sleeping’ and should you start doing it tonight?

by Erin Lindsay
20th Jan 2020

The Goop-approved concept of ‘clean sleeping’ has a lot of bells and whistles, but when you strip it back, it’s a great way to wind down

When you hear the words ‘clean sleeping’, it’s hard to imagine what it would entail. Since we don’t eat, drink or do anything when we sleep, what could we do to make it cleaner? And why would that make it better for us?

The concept stems from the queen of bizarre beauty trends herself, Gwyneth Paltrow, who, in her book Clean Beauty, waxes lyrical about the benefits of so-called clean sleeping. In a nutshell, clean sleeping is all about getting more, and better quality, sleep by making changes to your nighttime routine before you hit the hay. In Paltrow’s world, this entails such things as giving yourself foot massages, fasting before bed, and sleeping on a copper-infused pillowcase (to reduce wrinkles — yes, really).

Goop advice

Far be it from me to recommend anything Goop-related (jade eggs and vagina candles are so not my jam) but when you strip back all the ridiculous add-ons (where would someone even buy a copper pillowcase?), there might be something in this clean sleeping idea.

Paltrow claims that her Goop lifestyle and health experts have found that “poor-quality sleep can be unsettling for the metabolism and hormones, which can lead to weight gain, bad moods, impaired memory and brain fog”. Sleep plays a vital role in good health, and getting a good amount of sleep consistently every night is one of the most important things you can do for your body and brain.

Sleep is involved in the repair and healing of your cells and organs, and ongoing lack of sleep is linked to everything from heart and lung disease, to diabetes, to common colds and flu. In the brain, sleep deficiency can affect decision-making abilities, control over emotions and behaviour, and, in some cases, is linked to depression and suicidal thoughts.

What can I do to try clean sleeping?

In practice, clean sleeping is all about getting yourself into a routine and sticking to it. It’s incredibly important that you get enough sleep, and experts recommend 7-9 hours a night. Listen to your body – if you find yourself consistently tired after 7 hours a night, it may be time to consider upping that number, or perhaps changing the time you hit the hay.

You should ideally be going to bed at around the same time every night, but don’t chain yourself to the 10 pm mark, just because Paltrow recommends it. If you don’t feel tired until 11:30 pm, and prefer to get up a little later, then go with what your body tells you.

Your food and drink intake affect your sleep patterns more than you think. If you’re a coffee-lover, try not to have any after 2 pm, or at least seven hours before you plan on going to bed. The later you eat at night, the more likely it will affect your sleeping patterns – as a general rule of thumb, try not to eat anything 2-3 hours before you plan on sleeping for the night.

According to Paltrow, what you do before you go to sleep is just as important as the sleep itself. While it is great to get into a bedtime routine to wind down, don’t feel like you have to do something extravagant every evening. It’s all about using your routine to relax and get into an almost meditative state. For many women, their skincare routine is the perfect example. Take your time with each product, and massage your face — a jade roller is a great accompaniment. Then, get into cosy pyjamas, nestle into bed and take a few deep breaths to settle yourself into sleep mode.

A last important note — stop scrolling. The National Sleep Foundation in the U.S has found that blue light emitted from phone and TV screens can delay the release of melatonin (also known as the sleep hormone) and mess with your body clock when you try to sleep. Try making the bedroom a screen-free zone, and read or listen to music before bed instead. You may even find it has a positive effect on your mental health too.

Read more: Flexible working has changed my life, and now there’s a chance to help bring it into law

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Read more: How to nurture wellbeing in your children (and yourself): the 7 components of a healthy mind