For years, Elly Shariat had been burning the candle at both ends.
“I’d start my days around 6 a.m. and I’d begrudgingly force myself to go to sleep at 2 or 3 a.m.,” said Shariat, a Los Angeles-based entertainment publicist.
Her big “aha” moment came around her 35th birthday, when she got into her car one night and found herself too exhausted to drive.
“I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I couldn’t focus on the road, and there was no way I could continue working the way I was,” she explained.
Shariat turned to sleep aids to help solve her problem. When that didn’t conquer her sleeping woes, she decided to try some lifestyle changes. The busy professional looked to the world Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness bible, and found some tips on “clean sleeping.” Figuring she had nothing to lose, she attempted to give the trend a whirl.
What is clean sleeping?
In her latest book, Goop Clean Beauty, Paltrow raves about clean sleeping, often referring to it as the biggest health trend of 2017. In a nutshell, the concept involves making sleep a priority above anything else, including diet and fitness. And, according to the actress, it plays a crucial role in “determining your appetite and energy levels.”
Clean sleeping, experts say, is a quality habit to try to attain.
Below is a selection of Goop’s advice on how to get clean sleep, with sleep experts’ take on what works and what you can probably leave behind.
Getting at least eight hours of sleep a night (ideally nine or 10)
“Most adults do not need nine to 10 hours of sleep a night,” explained Dr. Joseph Krainin, a neurologist in Charleston, South Carolina. He tells patients to opt for seven to eight hours, and warns that “some studies actually suggest a higher mortality among adults that habitually sleep any longer than that.”
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule (and aiming to be in bed each night by 10 p.m.)
“Going to bed at the same time every night is important,” says Dr. Sujay Kansagra, director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program. “It keeps your internal circadian rhythm happy and makes it easier to fall asleep.”
He suggests, however, that instead of stressing out about trying to achieve an unrealistic goal of a strict 10 p.m. bedtime, that you find a time that works best for your individual schedule and stick to it.
Avoiding technology before bed
“Blue light from phones and iPads suppresses melatonin,” said Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and certified clinical sleep educator. “Also, all of that stuff you are looking at ― emails, news, political rants ― are not conducive to relaxation and sleep.”
Limiting afternoon caffeine
“Avoiding caffeine later in the day can definitely aid in a good night’s sleep,” Cralle confirmed.
Banning bedtime snacks and keeping a regular 12-hour fasting window in your day
Kansagra says not to eat too close to bedtime and just leave it at that. Fasting is not necessarily required.
Doing a fancy meditative practice called Yoga Nidra to reap the benefits of sleep without actually sleeping
“I have not seen evidence that anything ― aside from sleep ― can provide the beneficial effects of sleep,” Kansagra.
But if meditation relaxes you, Kansagra is all for it (after all, research shows it has incredible health benefits). He just advises using it as a means of inspiring sleep, not as a replacement.
Giving yourself a trigger-point head rub and pre-bed foot rub
“Anything that helps your body relax is likely to benefit your sleep. If rubbing your elbows with mayonnaise helps you relax, go for it! Do what works for you. And if that means a foot massage, then more power to you,” Kansagra said.
Sleeping with an $80 copper pillowcase to combat wrinkles and bacteria
Krainin calls “snake oil!” on this one. Comfortable bedding is ideal, but no need to spend a ton of cash for it in the name of rest.
Supplementing with magnesium to help your body relax
Kansagra notes that the role of magnesium in sleep still needs further research in order for medical professionals to arrive at a conclusion. “Giving magnesium to otherwise healthy individuals can lead to diarrhea, which can certainly worsen sleep. Most sleep physicians would not routinely recommend magnesium supplementation,” the MattressFirm sleep health consultant explains.
“At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that our biology has not changed, our behaviors have, leading to a public health crisis of sleep deprivation as the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has stated,” said Nancy Rothstein, the director of the CIRCADIAN Corporate Sleep Program. “So, keep it simple and listen to your body! It knows what to do and when.”