What is Clean Sleeping?

‘Clean Sleeping’ was most recently popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow, in her Goop: Clean Beauty book, which is (mostly) based on sensible and sound sleep hygiene rules and principles.

The essence of clean sleeping, Is basically a ‘natural drug-free approach’ to regularly get the best night of sleep, boosting your wellness, and to achieve optimal health and daytime performance.

To achieve this, you have to follow a series of basic rules:

  1. No drinking caffeine after 2pm.
  2. No electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
  3. Set a strict bedtime and follow it even through the weekend.
  4. Keep the bedroom dark and cool.
  5. Buy a copper pillow.

The basics of this list except (5) are the fundamentals of any good sleep coaching system.

This is not a bad place to begin. The fundamentals are here, although the importance of getting blue light in the morning preferably from the actual sky, with it’s bright full spectrum of light (Lux from the sun), seems to be missing. However I note with great interest reading a book before bed is considered to be the best approach (I would say only for some), but I would also suggest that you get a lower level brightness lightbulb that ideally points only onto the page of the book without spilling directly into your own eyes as you read, or a dimmed (night setting) kindle or tablet.  Or perhaps you might like to practice some relaxation techniques in bed instead.

It’s a classic sleep coaching advice to step away from caffeine after 2pm is good. 11-12pm is better!

Zero the electronic devices of any kind I would say ideally at least 90 minutes before going to bed. A minor tweek difference.

Ideally fall asleep at the same time every night, good, (although occasionally you should be allowed to be bad, and have some fun).  Alcohol also fragments and reduces both your deep and REM (dream) sleep. After a night off, you’ll need to get back to the strict rule of regularity. Consistency is absolutely the key.

No alcohol before bed, or a glass of wine with dinner as long as it’s early. Then ideally drink water!  I would add that most liquids should ideally be consumed in the daytime, and less at night.

Using a copper infused pillow, may be a good idea? However, I am skeptical, but if it works for you, you’re an early adopter. There are plenty of copper infused pillars on Amazon, but always read the reviews first. A good pillow is definitely an essential item, but I would say that more important is getting ‘enough’ sleep (7-9 hrs), combined with a natural healthy ‘drug-free’ lifestyle and diet, this will give you the most incredible skin, slow down the ageing process, and will give you a sparkle in your eye, and clear mind ready for each brand new day!

Unlike some sleep experts and sleep coaches, I cannot really condone the use of smart devices or any other form of electronics in the bedroom. Even though there’s some great sleep apps out there, unless they can help you to relax and fall asleep, or can monitor/track your sleep from outside the bedroom unobtrusively. Perhaps linked to your wearable tech such as Oura ring, Fitbit, Garmin or even Circadia Sleep Tracker that are seamlessly invisible, monitoring your sleep, for analysis the next day. Other than these, I would generally rule no electronics in the bedroom. No TVs, computers, devices. Stay 100% natural in the bedroom. Keep water by the bed to stay hydrated, particularly if you are a mouth breather, but only sip in the night as needed.

The cool dark bedroom rule is classic non-negotiable, I would add the importance of a good supply of oxygen perhaps leave a bedroom window slightly open an inch in winter, and obviously more so in the summer. 

I also want to point out the importance of a balanced healthy diet, including ideally in the evenings some form of carbohydrate that keeps your blood sugar steady during the night, protein clean meals at night time cause your blood sugar is to drop in the middle of the night during a sleep causing you to wake.  So many American diets these days are afraid to even mentioning the word ‘carbohydrate’, Carbohydrates help achieve good sleep. Fact. They are not evil.

If you’re frightened of carbohydrates get more exercise regularly.

Taking regular exercise ideally in the mornings, or afternoons, or early evenings also but not late night. Fact.

The rule of setting a strict bedtime even at weekends is definitely something that I would dispute, particularly if you’re a sleep deprived Monday to Friday parent, or recovering from a particularly good night out on Friday or Saturday night, as the latest sleep research shows that you can make up for the loss of sleep over the following days and/or take an afternoon nap for up to 30 minutes before 4pm to make up the difference.

I’m a great believer in the 80/20 principle, to that means doing everything right but is covered here, but avoid perfectionism.  Allow yourself the 20% freedom to do what ever you want, sleep well, but live a life without regrets, have fun, and then get back to the plan. 

Finally, I’m pretty sure that I will never own a copper pillow.

I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

It seems that living in the city improves your sleep


It is hard to believe, but some new sleep research shows that many people who live in the city are getting a better night’s sleep than those who live in the wild countryside. It seems that the natural sounds of far away open spaces, the wonderful broken silence of a sleepy night by the dawn chorus at the end of a quiet twinkly starlit night, and all that fresh air, may not in fact be as good for overall sleep quality as we originally thought. Wendy Taylor, 46, who lives in rural Norfolk agreed that the countryside can be a very noisy place particularly at the break of dawn.

According to their sleep survey, urban Britain sleeps far better than those who live in rural areas and the soundest sleepers appear to live in London. The poll found that 38% of Londoners claimed to be unable to sleep for at least seven hours uninterrupted. Whereas 63% of people living around Nottingham were dissatisfied with their sleep followed by those living near Norwich, with 59% dissatisfaction, and Southampton with 50% sleep dissatisfaction. Who would have thought that the city dwellers would be leaving the way in quality Zzzz…

Apparently the early morning sound of distant cockerels, farming equipment and noisy birdsong were named as the main annoyances for those frustrated sleepers who live in the countryside.
Who would have thought that homes in cities, insulated from most street sounds, away from the fresh air and wild countryside, would be so conducive to more satisfying sleep than many dwellers living and sleeping in the countryside.

These findings contradict previous evidence about the effect and extent of emotional disruption and stress caused by living in cities. One study found that 39% of people living in an urban city environment had a 39% higher probability for mood disorders and 21% greater risk of anxiety disorders. Figures from the office of National statistics released last year also suggest that those living in the countryside were more likely to be happy, with residents of the Orkneys, West Somerset, East Devon and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland reporting the highest levels of life satisfaction.

It is a fact that sleep is vital to not only the way we feel, but also the way we function in our personal and professional lives .If you’re struggling with sleep, get into a natural routine by setting regular sleep and wake up times and remove any distractions like electronics or outside light. Best to avoid caffeine after about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, to take regular exercise (but not at night) and to have warm bath just before going to bed are all shown to improve the quality of sleep.

The research also showed that adults between 25 and 34 were found to have the greatest ability to rest, with 71% saying that they regularly got a good night’s sleep. By contrast, only 46% of the over-55’s said that they were satisfied with their sleep.

And it seems that there is some foundation to the cliché that women are more prone to lie awake at night thinking than men. Just over a third of men said they were unhappy with their sleep compared to 46% of women. It seems that men sleep sounder than women, and most women will agree that their partner usually falls asleep almost as soon as their head hits the pillow.

However, if you are one of those who finds that sleep is difficult in a city, or living in the countryside there are many things that you can do to improve the quality of your sleep without succumbing to the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Understanding that sleep hygiene and powerful relaxation techniques, and there are many which combined with sleep routines can have a phenomenally improving effect increasing the restorative effects of natural sleep. I teach the ABC of better sleep at my clinic or you can download my iPhone iPad apps or MP3 sleep programs at
I wish you a great night sleep, every night!
Max Kirsten

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