You may have heard of the ‘clean sleeping’ trend, which was branded by Gwyneth Paltrow as the biggest health trend of 2017. Just like 2016’s ‘clean eating’ trend, this one is all about using sleep to improve your health. A recent Dreams study showed that 69% of Brits are unhappy with their sleep, yet less than one in ten (8%) chose to focus on sleep as a priority when it came to new year’s resolutions. Here, we discuss the trend and how you can incorporate it into your life for better sleep in 2019.
What is clean sleep?
Paltrow wrote an article for the Daily Mail outlining the idea of clean sleeping. She explains that she has a team of experts who are available to support her and give the best guidance. Her nutritionist Dr. Frank Lipman told her ‘poor-quality sleep can be unsettling for the metabolism and hormones, which can lead to weight gain, bad moods, impaired memory and brain fog, as well as serious health concerns such as inflammation and reduced immunity.’ The idea of clean sleeping is to achieve good quality sleep so you wake up feeling fully rested. The key is not to let the stress of the day affect your sleep.
Some of her suggestions, like ideally sleeping for 10 hours and giving yourself a daily massage, aren’t achievable for most. However, there are some really useful points we can take from clean sleeping.
Benefits of getting better sleep
Clean sleeping all boils down to getting a better quality sleep. Part of this is increasing how much sleep you’re getting if you don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours per night. Some of the benefits of getting more high-quality sleep are:
- Encourages healthier, fuller hair
- Increases immunity from colds and flu
- Helps encourage a better diet
- Strengthens your memory
- More sleep also equals a better mood
How to improve your sleep
Although some of the clean sleeping ideas may be time-consuming and expensive, you can definitely learn from their objectives. Here are some approachable ways to use clean sleeping in your own life:
In her article, Paltrow recommends ‘Yoga Nidra’ or psychic sleeping. This is a form of meditation that mimics the qualities of sleep while the body is still awake. The point of this meditation is to focus on each body part separately, in a circular motion. For example, focusing on your fingers, palm, wrist, forearm etc. all the way around the head, other arm and legs. This type of meditation is supposed to put your brain in a state of near-sleep. Once mastered, this can be extremely relaxing, but you will need to practice to feel the full effects.
For an easy meditation trick to do before bed, use mindful meditation. It works in a similar way to Yoga Nidra, focusing on how the body and mind feel at that precise moment. The important thing is not to dwell on thoughts. If a problem or worry comes into your head, acknowledge it and let it go. Breathe deeply and focus on your body, allowing yourself to become fully relaxed.
Dreams’ sleep expert Dr Pixie McKenna recommends having a strict sleep routine to improve your sleep in the new year. Meditation would fit perfectly into this wind-down routine. She says:
“As part of your routine, and especially on weekdays, try to plan an hour of relaxation before bed each night. Avoid screen time, as this keeps your brain active when you are trying to send it to sleep. Why not take a bath, read a book, meditate, or spend time catching up with family. This will help your body wind down ahead of hitting the pillow.”
Don’t eat before bed
This is a good rule to stick to if you want to improve your sleep. Detox expert, Dr. Alejandro Junger advises you should keep a 12-hour fasting window at night. So, if you usually wake up at 7.30am, don’t eat after 7.30pm the night before. He says, ‘This is because your body won’t slip into deep detox mode until about eight hours after your last meal and then it needs about four more hours of undisturbed sleep to do its job properly.’
A study by the American Journal of Gastroenterology also found a significant link between late-night eating and acid reflux symptoms. So, it could not only harm your sleep but also make you ill in the long run.
Dr Pixie McKenna also suggests eating and drinking healthily as one of the best ways to improve your sleep. She says:
“Dry January and diets are of course some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Sleep and diet have a symbiotic relationship. If you’re eating lots of unhealthy food, you’re likely to be getting poor quality sleep, and vice versa. Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet of seasonal fruit and veg, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and oily fish to aid sleep.
“Junk food and produce high in saturated fat are more likely to lead to poor quality sleep. Likewise, when it comes to drinking, try and cut down on caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, which stimulate your brain and make you feel wide awake. Limiting alcohol, which is a notorious sleep disruptor, will also help your sleep quality.”
A recent Dreams survey found that the top new year’s resolutions revolve around food and drink. 27% of participants said they’ll aim to eat healthily and 15% said they want to consume less alcohol.
Paltrow recommends pressure point head rubs and foot massages before bed. You may think this is unattainable to keep up every night. If you don’t want to do this as part of your daily routine, you could always introduce it to your night-time routine on a once-weekly basis.
Give yourself a gentle head massage stimulating pressure points on the back of your head. These are located about five fingers from the back of your ear at the base of your skull. You will feel a dip and a tender point in the right spot. Massaging these in a circular motion can relieve headaches, tension and can stimulate circulation.
Alternatively, a relaxing foot massage will help ground and relax you. Practice mindfulness during this and focus on the act and how it makes you feel. Or, you could ask your partner to do it for you and give them a massage in return.
The main point to take from clean sleeping is that it promotes good sleep hygiene. This is about having a sleep routine that enables you to have good quality sleep. As they say, quality is better than quantity! When it comes to making your new year’s resolution this year, why not consider clean sleeping to improve your lifestyle?