Clean Sleeping: Why Gwyneth Paltrow Wants You to Buy a $60 Pillowcase

Medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on March 10, 2017Written by Mandy Ferreira

sleep

These days, it’s not enough to give up sugar, happy hour drinks, and your favorite packaged foods in the name of health. Clean sleeping is the new clean eating, at least according to sleep gurus like Gwyneth Paltrow and Arianna Huffington.

Over the past decade, the way we think about sleep has completely changed. A lack of sleep was once a badge of honor and productivity. But now, it has turned into a socially shameful declaration that you aren’t taking care of yourself. Much like whether or not we allow ourselves bites of brownies, how we sleep is suddenly open to judgement and unwanted advice.

We all know that lack of sleep wreaks havoc on our bodies, performance, and ability to think, and is linked to chronic diseases like depression, heart disease, and diabetes.

But we also clearly haven’t given up our beloved Netflix time or started sneaking under our desks for a quick nap. More than 25 percent of Americans are regularly not getting enough sleep, and three-quarters of us frequently have difficulty falling asleep.

Paltrow, one of the biggest proponents of clean eating, regularly discusses it on her company site, Goop. She says clean sleeping is even more important than clean eating. Perhaps for good reason. Getting enough sleep is a critical component of good health. But is this really the next big health trend? Here’s the truth.

So what exactly is clean sleeping?

Clean sleeping has nothing to do with showering before bed or slipping into freshly laundered sheets (and it goes without saying that “dirty sleeping” isn’t what you think it is, either). Instead, it’s about the habits and behaviors that can improve your quality of sleep and help you feel better rested.

The ideas behind sleeping clean certainly aren’t new. Clean sleeping is really just a new term for “sleep hygiene,” and it follows most of the advice we’ve heard over and over again and generally continue to ignore.  

How do you sleep clean?

Much like clean eating, clean sleeping is open to interpretation. Paltrow has her own regime and suggestions, but it really comes down to simple habits to improve sleep, like staying away from screens for an hour before bed and sleeping in a completely dark room. Here what else is important:

Get enough sleep: The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but Gwynnie is shooting for 10.

Eat clean, sleep clean: Before you trade in your kale smoothies for an easier way to ultimate beauty and health, you should know that clean sleeping, at least how Paltrow sees it, includes clean eating as one of its main principles. In their new book, “Goop Clean Beauty,” the editors of goop recommend cutting out sugar, alcohol, afternoon and evening caffeine, and late night snacking entirely, all in the name of better sleep.

No naps: They also suggest waking and sleeping in sync with the sun, and napping only if you already sleep well. No napping allowed if you frequently have trouble falling asleep.

Create your rituals: Paltrow is big into sleep rituals. From taking a bath to giving yourself a three-minute foot massage before bed, she has the whole evening planned. (Because getting to bed on time alone wasn’t already hard enough, now you can add spa treatments to your nightly juggle of doing the dishes, putting the kids to bed, and finally catching up on work email.)

Go offline: Paltrow suggests you turn off your Wi-Fi at night and put your phone into airplane mode.

What’s really the deal with copper pillowcases?

While it’s not a core tenet of clean sleeping, Paltrow recommends copper-infused pillowcases to get some serious beauty sleep and prevent wrinkles. However, you can save yourself the $60. There isn’t yet conclusive research on the benefits of these pillowcases outside of a few very small studies. You may have better luck sleeping on your back and never making a facial expression again.

Bottom line

You’re right to be a little skeptical of a method endorsed by someone’s company who also sells jade egg vaginal weights. But hear Paltrow out: Clean sleeping does have some good advice in it.

It’s no secret these days that a nightly routine can help you sleep better, but actually setting aside the time and sticking with it is a whole other thing. You may not be setting a timer for your foot massage, but at least going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is a good place to start.

As much as we all hate to admit it, our technology has a big impact on our sleep. If going cold turkey is too much, reserve your will power for a couple days a week, or for the nights before a big presentation. You’ll sleep better at least part of the week and you won’t be missing out on “The Walking Dead.”

What you eat also does impact how well you sleep. Caffeine-containing drinks and foods such as coffee and some chocolates, and alcohol, can all disrupt your sleep. A lighter dinner may also make it easier for you to sleep. But that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to follow Paltrow’s strict diet.

Before you run out and buy the latest metal-infused pillow, try drinking a glass or two of water in the morning to rehydrate your skin and body instead.

And for best results, don’t forget to tell the world that you #sleptclean.

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