You’ve heard of clean eating, but should you try clean sleeping?
Celebrity blogger and font of questionable health wisdom Gwyneth Paltrow has coined the phrase, which describes a practice involving nine hours of shut-eye a night, meditation, massages, fasting and specially designed pillows.
In an extract from her new book Goop Clean Beauty published on Mail Online, Paltrow explained why clean sleeping was her biggest beauty priority.
“The lifestyle I lead is based not just on clean eating, but also on clean sleeping: at least seven or eight hours of good, quality sleep — and ideally even ten,” Paltrow said.
“[I]t goes without saying that poor sleep is terrible from a beauty perspective.
“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.”
Paltrow reached out to some expert friends to provide some concrete tips for cleaning up your sleeping routine – but how helpful are they?
We ran them past Emeritus Professor Leon Lack, a clinical psychologist specialising in sleep at Flinders University, to see how much of it is gospel and how much is Goop.
Aim for nine hours a night
Gwyneth Paltrow says: According to nutritional scientist Dr Laura Lefkowitz, “the simplest and most direct route to ageing gracefully, maintaining a slender waistline and enjoying glowing skin and lush hair is getting as much as nine hours of good sleep every single night”.
Dr Lefkowitz says nine hours is ideal because it allows the body maximum time to “repair itself and detoxify”.
Prof Leon Lack says: “That may be possible in some young adults but it would take more time in bed to get it. A fairly recent study by Klerman and Dijk showed healthy young adults who were getting eight hours a night and feeling fine with that, given 12 hours in bed, could get nine hours and feel a bit more rested.
“But who is going to take that much time in every 24 hours to feel marginally better? Their study didn’t measure the texture of skin or lushness of hair so I can’t comment on that, only to guess that there is no scientific evidence to support such a claim.”
Try psychic sleep
Gwyneth Paltrow says: “Yoga nidra, which means ‘psychic sleep’, is a form of meditation that is believed to give you the benefits of sleep while you’re awake.”
Prof Leon Lack says: “‘Psychic sleep, which she seems to be calling meditation, is probably a good technique for getting to sleep. In fact research shows that even experienced meditators drift into light stages of sleep.
“It may be the case that the improved alertness from meditation actually derives from a power nap [a brief 10 minutes of light sleep]. Research has established the anecdotal benefits of power naps of reduced sleepiness, improved alertness and cognitive performance following the power nap.
A photo posted by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on
Don’t snack before bedtime
Gwyneth Paltrow says: Detox expert Dr Alejandro Junger instructs you to “resist midnight snacks to prevent the digestive process from disturbing your sleep”.
“In order to allow the body really to cleanse overnight, keep a regular 12-hour fasting window — so if you finish supper at 8.30pm, you shouldn’t eat breakfast until after 8.30am the next day.,” Dr Junger suggests.
Prof Leon Lack says: “There is good evidence that a substantial meal within three hours of bedtime can disrupt the quality of sleep. So give at least three hours [preferably four for a heavy meal] between the end of the evening meal and bedtime. I don’t think there is any evidence that a fast of at least 12 hours is necessary.”
Have a head or foot massage
Gwyneth Paltrow says: Osteopath and pain expert Vicky Vlachonis suggests massaging “special trigger points on the back of your head just before bed”.
“Once activated, they can stimulate circulation, disperse accumulated toxins and speed the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body,” Vlachonis says.
Paltrow also enjoys giving herself a three-minute foot massage with “sweet-smelling, thickly-textured moisturising cream” before bed.
Prof Leon Lack says: “I don’t doubt they [massages] can be relaxing. I doubt the evidence for increased circulation and toxin removal. Aerobic exercise [at least 20 minutes] in the late afternoon or early evening increases deep sleep and is also relaxing.”
Invest in a copper pillowcase
Gwyneth Paltrow says: “[Y]ou might be able to glean maximum health benefits from the time you do spend in bed by investing in a special metal-infused pillowcase.”
Specifically, Paltrow favours pillows “infused with fine strands of copper oxide” she purports can “help to prevent the formation of, and even reduce, wrinkles”.
Prof Leon Lack says: “I doubt that there is any evidence for [pillow cases’] benefits to skin or any other part of the body.
“People who become anxious about their sleep and are developing or have insomnia are often desperate to try easy things to cure their insomnia and show a placebo effect to a variety of devices and prescriptions promising improved sleep.”
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