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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

A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

Ear plugs are like cars, there are just so many different types!

Not all insomnia and sleep problems are caused by anxiety. When I go through my MOT Sleep Survey to identify the root causes of a clients sleep difficulties, it will often identify either hyper-sensitivity to sound, with an external stimulus issue like the sounds outside; cars, trains, or even aeroplanes; or their neighbours above or next door, the dawn chorus, or their partner’s snoring, or just the sounds of their breathing and so on… babies, children and pets etc… This leads me often to my A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

If hyper-sensitivity to sound is at the root of their not being able to sleep deeply, or for as long as they would like because they keep being woken by sound. I usually recommend a variety of sleep earplugs based on various relevant parameters. Often my clients say they have already tried earplugs and that they didn’t work either because they didn’t block out the sound they wanted to block out. Or, that they were too big and uncomfortable, and often, they said that they didn’t like wearing earplugs because they live alone (most often women living alone with safety issues), or that even though outside noises bothered them, because they have a baby, child or even several children, that they weren’t comfortable blocking out all noise in case of a child based emergency.

All of these reasons of course, are totally valid, although not in my opinion the end of the conversation. There were still essential reasons to explore the various possibilities and solutions to help noise sensitive poor sleepers.

In my deep and varied Sleep Coach tool box, I keep a variety of different earplugs and much more…

My A to Z of Sleep Earplugs collection includes:

1, Very narrow foam ear plugs ideal mostly for people (usually women) who have narrower ear canals or tunnels – excellent sound reduction 36db.

2, Parental ear plugs. These are special attenuated ear plugs which reduce the outside sounds of traffic etc, but still allows the sound of babies and children for parents wanting better sleep but also needing to be able to still hear their children and babies if needed – sound reduction 24 db

3, Various shaped 3-tier Silicone ear plugs (hyper allergenic – medical grade) with various noise reducing densities 22 db upwards.

4, And a vast array of earplugs that vary in shape, size and sound reduction. I also have thicker earplugs of various foam densities that can totally block out up to 46 dB of sound – making lorries, noisy neighbours, or being under the flight path of noisy planes… to lying next to the worlds loudest snorer.

5, There are also a number of hi-tech solutions with incredible noise cancelling properties or even a sound bubble gadget with a noise exclusion zone containing and blocking out your partners snoring that are also most definitely worth exploring if quietness is a priceless commodity. Some of this kit can cost a lot more than good foam ear plugs though!

6, For snorers in a relationship sharing the same bed, there are also a number of other very simple nasal options worth considering if you and your partner want to achieve better sleep. There is a special plastic insert that opens the nose channels wider. There are also a number of pillows and sleep positions that help to reduce problem snoring. There are many options to explore before surgery, sleeping next door or even eventually spitting up.

7, For noisy neighbours there are a number of sound insulation boards for floors, walls, ceilings and doors to explore as well.

So visit a good sleep coach to help you to explore all the various possibilities to reduce or eliminate unwanted sounds.

I hope you found my A to Z of Sleep Earplugs useful to solve any sound issues.

As usual I wish you a really great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten

How to Avoid Blue Light Insomnia

 

sleep_coach_blue_light

According to recent research, blue light technology is now being slated as one of the main causes of insomnia.  The more time we spend on our iPhones, iPads, or Kindle Fires – all devices which emit blue light – the harder it is to get a good night’s rest.  As wonderful and convenient as these blue light devices may be, avoiding them could be the key to beating your insomnia.

It’s All Down to Blue Light Technology

Believe it or not, sleep was much easier to get before the digital era arrived. However, new research from Penn State and Harvard University has proven that people who regularly read electronic books and stare at blue light screens before turning the lights out sleep for less hours!  They are also more prone to experience periods of insomnia.

This is down to the blue light emitted from these devices, which interferes with the body’s natural circadian rhythm – a ‘fancy’ term for the internal mechanism which synchronizes with the Earth’s 24 hr rotation.  This ‘body clock’ is regulated by our senses, and most importantly regulated by the amount of light that passes through our eyes. When this light travels up the optic nerve to an area in the brain known as the pineal gland, it works to regulate melatonin, the hormone that induces sleepiness.  Any imbalance in this special hormone will cause restlessness in sleep, as well as insomnia.

Blue Light Interferes with the Ages of Sleep

The pressures of modern day living, alongside the use of blue light devices, simply makes it harder and harder for us to fall asleep – or even stay asleep. This is because blue light impairs the effectiveness of the stages of sleep; In fact, it is particularly detrimental to REM sleep which is in charge of storing memories.  Studies carried out by Penn State and Harvard University (US) – published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – support this, showing that screens really can have an extremely powerful effect on the body’s natural sleep pattern.

How to Avoid Blue Light Insomnia – Real Books and Less Technology

Therefore, it is becoming much more clear that if you wish to get a great night’s sleep – but enjoy reading a good book before bedtime – a real book with printed words will help you sleep better than any electronic device. In fact, I believe that limiting the use of blue light devices to at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime is even more helpful when trying to avoid insomnia.  I also believe that televisions, mobiles (and their chargers), as well as all other electronic devices should be kept out of the bedroom – or at least switched off completely before bedtime.

Blue Light is the Enemy of Sleep

As a sleep coach, I am seeing more and more people with sleep difficulties, caused by worry, anxieties, stimulants (i.e. coffee, nicotine, cigarettes and e-cigs), alcohol, and now blue light circadian rhythm interruption ( Wow! Try saying that five times!) to top it all. Though blue light has been a positive breakthrough in computer screen technology blue light IS the enemy of sleep.

 

6 Signs that you’re not getting enough sleep

Sleep Coach

We all know how important getting a good night sleep is. However, just yawning a lot and feeling tired all the time are only two of the most obvious signs of sleep deprivation.

Here’s my list of six more signs that you’re just not getting enough sleep.

1: You’ve just crunched your car!
It only takes a moment of distraction, and when we are tired your reactions are impaired. Research and sleep studies have shown that chronic and short-term sleep deprivation produces slower reaction times. one study at Stanford University in the US proved that sleep deprived people performed worse in reaction time tests than people who were under the influence of alcohol.

We all know that if you’re driving a car at high speed whether it’s on the motorway or dual carriageways that sleepiness causes accidents, and drifting lanes whilst drifting off is extremely dangerous. Fresh air and even a short rest before driving again is always the best short-term solution.

But it’s not just the stopping distance of your car that’s impaired by lack of sleep, it can be the simplest manoeuvres like parking or even getting out of the car, opening the door without taking proper care to see if there are any cars or cyclists about to pass before you open the door. So beware of sleep deprived drivers.

2: You shout at the children or family members!
Impatience, intolerance, irritability and rage have all been linked to sleep deprivation. This is true both of adults as well as children. It’s important that everyone in the family gets enough regular sleep, so that the kids are less likely to misbehave and you will be less likely to lose your temper.

3: You just can’t seem to lose that weight!
Hard as it is to believe, not getting enough sleep interferes with your bodies hormonal balance. HGH or human growth hormone and testosterone are to important hormones that help to regulate and maintain a strong lean healthy body. Not getting enough sleep slows down the body’s natural metabolic rate.

4: You have cravings for carbs and sugary things.
Poor sleep can cause cravings for carbohydrates and sugary snacks. Sleep balances our appetite hormones, and reduced sleep interferes with keeping to a healthy diet, and motivation to do regular exercise. Who wants to exercise if you feel tired?

5: You continuously lose things, like your keys!
Being sleep deprived, we miss out on the important REM stage of good sleep. It is thought that memory consolidation occurs during the REM phase (rapid eye movement). Memory glitches, wondering why you walked into a room? What was I looking for? Forgetting the name of even your loved one? Losing your car or house keys? These are signs that you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Long-term sleep problems have even been shown to have an association with Alzheimer’s disease. So get more sleep to improve your long-term mental health.

6: You need an alarm clock.
If you’re getting enough regular sleep, and if you’re going to bed at more or less the same time each night, you will find that you will naturally wake each morning at the desired regular time, feeling refreshed and ready for a new day. However, if you are sleep deprived, and your body hasn’t had a chance to complete its natural restorative tasks, you will feel that it is almost impossible to wake up, and feel you need the noisy unpleasant sound of an alarm clock is almost the only way to wake and then drag your weary body out of the bed. So get more sleep, go to bed earlier, enjoy being in bed more.

So watch out for these classic signs that your body and mind needs more sleep, and then do something about it! Rest is good for you, even if you’re not always asleep!

Learn how to practice better sleep hygiene.

I wish you a great night sleep, every night!
Zzz…
Max Kirsten

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