I Tried Clean Sleeping For Two Weeks And It Changed My Life
One of the top wellness trends of 2017 is the Goop-approved “clean sleeping,” which was popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow in her 2016 book, Goop: Clean Beauty. Like clean eating, clean sleeping believes that your overall wellbeing depends on making decisions that help you get the best and healthiest night of sleep. To achieve this, you have to follow a few basic rules: no drinking caffeine after 2 pm; no electronic devices at least an hour before bed; set a strict bedtime and follow it even through the weekend; keep the room dark and cool; and buy a copper pillow. Seems easy right? Well, some parts are, and some parts aren’t. Having done it for two weeks, here is what I learned.
1. READING BEFORE BED IS BEST
A true millennial, I was skeptical about the whole “electrolytes are attacking your brain” theory spun by old fuddy-duddies, and used to comfortably fall asleep while watching TV or flipping through my iPhone. But it looks like what sleep clinics say is true: electronics stimulate the brain and inhibit the release of sleep neurotransmitters. Turning off my phone allowed me to unplug from the stress of social media, and dozing off while reading (rather than while watching It) gave me much nicer dreams than the stressful nightmares with which I’m usually plagued, both of which led to a more restful sleep. If you’re not a big reader, doing something else that lets your body and brain relax, like yoga or a bubble bath, works too.
2. FALLING ASLEEP AT THE SAME TIME EVERY NIGHT IS KEY
Like most people who work full-time, I generally go to bed at a reasonable hour during the week in order to wake up at 7 am every day, but party hard into the night and sleep until the late afternoon during the weekend. My little clean sleeping experiment taught me that the rumors are true: messing with your bedtime interrupts our body clock’s ability to regulate healthy sleep patterns. By going to bed between 10 pm and midnight every night, I was able to consistently wake up between 7 and 9 am every morning without issue. By the second week, I didn’t even need an alarm clock! It was almost like my brain was gently rousing my body at the time at which it was accustomed to waking up.
3. NO ALCOHOL BEFORE BED
Alcohol does help you initially fall asleep, but it also messes up your metabolic signals, leading you to wake up in the middle of the night. You can still have, say, a glass of wine with dinner, but that’s it, and follow it up with a few glasses of water for good measure. Ideally, you shouldn’t drink anything at all after 8 pm so you don’t end up needing to wake up to pee. And if you’ve had a stressful day, try a natural remedy, like valerian root, to wind down before bed.
4. COPPER-INFUSED PILLOWS ARE THE ULTIMATE LUXURY
You don’t need to buy a copper-infused pillow, but Gwyneth (and the good people of Amazon) swear the copper oxide fibers reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. There are plenty on the market, but the best reviews came with the Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase, which at $60 is just at the cusp of the amount I’m willing to spend to totally change my life. I was skeptical at first, but the pillow is so silky smooth, I’m convinced its actually helping. If you want to be extra lush, you can get the copper-infused pillow mask as well.
5. GET THE SLEEP CYCLE APP
When I first decided to do clean sleeping, I wanted some way of scientifically measuring my quality of sleep that didn’t require checking into a sleep clinic. Lo and behold, I found Sleep Cycle: an app that uses the accelerometer inside your iPhone to monitor your movements as you sleep. Before you go to bed, you put in a 30-minute period during which you need to wake up (mine is 7-7:30 a.m.), and the app rouses you with a gentle vibration when you’re in the lightest sleep stage, which makes you feel a lot more rested than when you’re wrenched straight out of REM. Setting aside the creepiness factor of the fact that your iPhone is literally watching you sleep, it’s a great way to get some hard stats on your sleep performance, as well as a great alternative to an alarm clock.
Two weeks later, I realized that I’ve never been so rested in my entire life. Thanks, Gwyneth!