You’ve probably heard of clean eating, but what about clean sleeping?
If it makes a difference, Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan.
The actress says sleeping plays such a vital role in determining appetite and energy levels that it should be a number one priority, even ahead of diet.
She explains the concept of clean sleeping in her book “Goop Clean Beauty.”
“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 writes.
Citing advice from her nutrition expert, Dr. Frank Lipman, Paltrow says poor-quality sleep can create problems for a person’s metabolism and hormones.
That can then lead to bad moods, weight gain, poor memory, brain fog, and reduced immunity.
“And it goes without saying that poor sleep is terrible from a beauty perspective,” Paltrow adds.
Is ‘clean sleeping’ beneficial?
But is there any truth to the idea of “clean sleeping,” or is it just another fad?
According to the experts, it may be a bit of both.
“Sleep is essential for optimal health,” Dr. Safwan Badr, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and chair of the Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine, told Healthline.
“Adults should sleep seven or more hours per night on a regular basis,” Badr added. “There is strong evidence that sleeping less than seven hours per night on a regular basis is associated with adverse health outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death. Sleeping less than seven hours per night is also associated with impaired immune function, increased pain, impaired performance, increased errors, and greater risk of accidents.”
Among the recommendations Paltrow and her team make for “clean sleeping” is to get as many as nine hours of good sleep every night. They say doing so is “the simplest and most direct route to aging gracefully, maintaining a slender waistline, and enjoying glowing skin and lush hair.”
But Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg, a board certified sleep medicine physician and author of “The Doctor's Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety,” told Healthline this may not be suitable advice for everyone.
“The key is that one size does not fit all, and I am afraid her book, pushing for at least eight hours, and even better, nine hours, is not factually based,” he said. “I am also concerned that those doing fine on less than eight hours of sleep may decide to try to make themselves sleep longer, based on her system. When they find that they are unable to do so this can lead to anxiety and trouble sleeping.”
Jerry Siegel, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) specializing in sleep research, holds a similar view.
“Ideally we should go to sleep naturally and awaken naturally. Stress and other causes of sleep loss are detrimental. But 10, or even nine hours of sleep in adults is associated with a markedly shorter lifespan, not a longer one,” he told Healthline.
What restful sleep can do
Still, some of the claims in Paltrow’s book are indeed true.
The idea that sleep can determine appetite and influence metabolism are facts backed by science.
“Several hormones are affected by sleep and sleep deprivation,” Badr said. “For example, sleep deprivation is associated with reduced levels of leptin — a hormone that suppresses appetite — and increased ghrelin, a stomach-derived hormone that stimulates appetite. Therefore, sleep deprivation increases craving and consumption of calorie dense foods and carbohydrates.”
As for Paltrow’s assertion that sleep should be a number one priority even before diet, Badr is unconvinced.
“Sleep, exercise, and nutrition are part of overall wellness. I consider them as the three legs of the three-legged stool of wellness … I take a holistic view of wellness that emphasizes all of these elements of healthy living,” he said.
Some of Badr’s tips for ensuring good sleep include not drinking coffee after lunch, not staying up too late working at a computer, not reading, writing, eating, or watching TV in bed, and only going to bed when you’re sleepy.
He also suggests trying to stick to a sleep schedule when possible, and make your bedroom quiet and dark.
Be wary of celebrity advice
Some of these suggestions are mirrored in Paltrow’s concept of “clean sleeping,” but the experts who spoke with Healthline agreed any health advice given by a celebrity should be approached with caution.
“Celebrities have wide audiences, by virtue of their status, and hence could help in promoting health,” Badr said. “However, it is important to distinguish personal opinions and preferences from scientifically supported facts.”
“From what I have seen in some of these celebrity books, they sometimes stray a bit too far from the scientific,” added Rosenberg. “In the end, this can result in spending money on things that have no proven benefit.”
“Very few of these celebrities have any real knowledge of sleep and its effects on health or basic sleep physiology,” he added. “Most of these books deal in generalizations such as ‘sleep detoxifies the body’… statements such as these are really nonsense.”