Clean Sleeping... What is it??

Gabrielle Kassel is a New York based writer who has a deep affinity for weight-lifting, living mindfully, and the em-dash. She has been published at Women’s Health Magazine where she is part of the online editorial team, and Feather Magazine, where she was a contributing health writer. In her free time she can be found reading self-help books, Tindering in public, and making soup.

We’ve all heard of and tried “clean eating” (aka eating as many fruits, vegetables, and whole foods as possible), but have you heard of “clean sleeping”?

Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it. But, her publication, GOOP, has also said that the vagina facial is a beauty treatment all women need ASAP and moon dust is an essential ingredient for our morning smoothies… so I wasn’t about to sign onto the new trend without a bit of research.

Turns out, she might be on to something. The health-guru first introduced the idea of clean sleeping in an article for The Daily Mail where she stated, “Sleep plays such a powerful role in determining your appetite and energy levels that I believe it should be your first priority — even before you think about your diet.” Time and time again, lack of quality sleep has been linked to weight gain, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Research shows that sleep affects our various hormone levels, which in turn, impacts many factors of our overall health. 

Mark Joseph Buchfuhrer, M.D, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles told Women’s Health, “The only thing new about this trend is the name […]. We’ve been trying to get this message out [about good-quality sleep] for over 25 years, but if this helps get it more attention, Paltrow can call it whatever she wants.”

However, Paltrow takes the common ‘get more sleep’ idea to a new level when she says “It goes without saying that poor sleep is terrible from a beauty perspective.” Paltrow goes on to explain that the body repairs itself and “detoxifies” overnight, and it’s this process that allows us to look our best the next day . Therefore, by sleeping less, we give our bodies less time to detoxify. She says, “Call it vanity, call it health, but I know there’s a huge correlation between how I feel and what I look like when I roll out of bed in the morning”. While we can all agree that there is nothing quite like going from being worn out and exhausted to bouncing back to life when you find a new sleep groove, or get more sleep over the holidays or on vacation, Paltrow’s clean sleep routine is about more than just how many hours of shut-eye we get each night.

In addition to trying to get more sleep (at least 7-8 hours, and ideally 9-10), Paltrow has also begun using a copper-infused pillow. Studies have shown that pillowcases infused with fine strands of copper oxide can help to prevent the formation of wrinkles. When your face is in contact with the pillowcase, copper ions are supposedly transferred into the upper layers of your skin, where they help support cell renewal. Why there are studies being down on copy-infused pillows and not more pressing matters… I don’t know. But If you’re interested in ~upgrading~ your pillowcases, Ebay has the best deals with prices as low as $60 per case.

In addition to switching out her pillow cases, Paltrow is also keeping a regular 12-hour fasting schedule, meaning that if she finishes supper at 8:30pm, she won’t eat breakfast until after 8:30am the next day. This tactic keeps her digestive system from interfering with her sleeping pattern while also keeping her late-night snacking at bay.

While Paltrow says clean sleeping means striving to get 9 or 10 hours of sleep a night, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between the ages of 18 to 64 aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of three American adults are not even getting that.

Paltrow’s go-to Doc, Dr. Frank Lipman says, “We simply weren’t built to just go, go, go. We were built to go, go, go and then rest, rest, rest”. And while I’m drawn to his catchy (and comforting) claim, is it really realistic…? I’m all about healthy living, but living healthy is time consuming! Between that SoulCycle class, CrossFit barbell seminar, grocery shopping, meal prep, showering, and “me-time”, my days are pretty packed.

Add a full time job into the mix, and sleep just isn’t a priority… but that is exactly what clean sleeping is promoting: the prioritization of sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle.

To help us prioritize sleep, Dr. Frank Lipman suggests first and foremost getting into a routine, “A regular sleep rhythm reminds the brain when to release sleep and wake hormones, which in turn affects all the other hormones, ultimately affecting our overall health”. 

Finally, he says “Often just thinking about sleep affects your ability to fall asleep [...] It often becomes a vicious cycle of worrying about not being able to sleep which leads to worsening sleep problems.”

While Paltrow may take prioritizing sleep to the next level, we can all benefit by making sleep as much of a priority as clean eating, exercise, and showering.



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