‘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:
No drinking caffeine after 2pm.
No electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
Set a strict bedtime and follow it even through the weekend.
Keep the bedroom dark and cool.
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.
Sleeping Teenager – Napping In The Daytime Increases academic Performance
There is growing evidence that adolescents should be encouraged to take naps during the daytime at school. A large study of almost 3,000 Chinese children showed that the ones who took a nap of between 30 and 60 minutes at least three times a week, were not only found to be cleverer, but were also happier. They also had greater self-control, higher IQ’s and more of that hard to find yet precious thing called ‘grit’.
Napping in the daytime increases children’s academic performance by 7.6% on average. And unlike in China, where Chinese children regularly are encouraged to take mid-day naps, western thinking: including the United States and Europe are only just beginning to wake up to the fact that children not only need more sleep than they are currently getting on average, but that they also need to start later in the morning. The ideal time is 10 AM, with a longer day until about 6 o’clock in order not to be sleep deprived, because they always go to bed later than adults, as their body time clock’s become delayed in teenage years.
The scientists collected the data from the Chinese research, on both napping frequency, and psychological measures, including happiness. They also asked teachers to give them behavioural and academic information about each student. Then, they analysed the associations, adjusting for sex, age, school location, parental education, and bedtimes. These findings have since been published in the Journal of Sleep.
“We had the chance to ask real-world, adolescents school children questions across a wide range of behavioural, academic, social, and psychological measures. The more students sleep during the day, the greater the benefit of naps on many of these measures,” said Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, US.
There are growing concerns that British children are becoming chronically under-rested and sleep deprived. Very little research has been done on napping for children, with the exception for toddlers. This new Chinese research study, sheds a light that if we are to be competitive in future with the rest of the world, our UK children need to sleep for England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Poor sleep causes low cognitive skills, also poor memory, and exam results. It’s time to value our sleep, and to brush up on our nightly sleep quotas. Never before has napping with children been shown to perhaps be the difference that makes the difference. Sleep is the secret weapon for higher academic performance with children and teenagers.
Sleep experts and child psychologists have known of the years the importance of bedtime rituals. They encourage a seamless transition from the playful day to quiet slumbers. The bedtime story is probably the most potent bedtime sleep aid for children.
Here is a selection of my top five books for parental reading for small ones.
The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin
One of the best books for young children in recent years which is topped the Amazon bestsellers list is called ‘The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep’. It’s been written by a Swedish psychologist structured with a focus on design to help to all children into a deep sleep. it encourages the parental reader to vary their voice allowing and leading their child or children into slumber.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen
This is a really enjoyable way to have some fun and make your child snigger before bed. You can’t go wrong with this amusing book that helps them to laugh at themselves and at dinosaurs!
Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse
A wonderful book about the rituals that we as parents create for our children. This book will appeal to parents all over the world, as it will remind you of what it was like when you were little.
Interrupting Chickenby David Ezra Stein
This is a wonderful story of children who like to discuss and go through the story and sometimes get so excited if forgotten that the meant to be getting ready to fall asleep. This book is also good for parents who may wish their reading-age children to do role-play, as is great fun taking the roles, including their role as the over eager, interrupting chicken.
The Sleep Bookby Dr Zeus
The book begins with a yawning little bug, and continues as all of Dr Zeus’s books, imaginative classic. And this one is particularly good to read and listened to at bedtime. The only challenge is for parents to stay awake through the entire book without yawning themselves!
All over the world there is a rapidly growing market for dreamy locations to improve your sleep. Sleep hotels, sleep clinics, sleep retreats, luxury spas dedicated to better sleep are opening up, often in remote or unusual places.
While millions of us are living our usually sleep deprived lives, there is an ever growing number of people willing to travel far and wide for a dream destination, or rather a location where sleep and dreams are the main event, dream vacations for optimal sleep. This is literally the stuff of dreams!
Here are some examples of the lengths that some people can go in their search for better sleep (at a cost of thousands £££££) whereas mostly all they need to do is to follow all the recommendations for sleep hygiene. However some of these dream locations do sound rather wonderful!
I was reading about an example of this as I flicked through a magazine in my waiting-room at my dental surgery. There it was, a sleep programme from Six Senses, the luxury spa hotel group.
The article said they’d created a coordinated sleep programme with the help of the renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Breus who is a member of the Six Senses Integrated Wellness Board. He has pioneered the sleep programme which consists of being met as you arrive by their sleep ambassador, who will assess your sleep requirements and help you to choose the right pillow from a vast array of options for every sleep position imaginable. That’s just the beginning. You would benefit from two years of scientific sleep research at the hotel, using high-tech sleep monitoring gadgetry, touch of a button blackout blinds that descend beautifully, enjoy sheets, duvet cover and pillowcases made from moisture-wicking organic eucalyptus and cotton. You have the choice of wearing bamboo-fibre pyjamas for breathability and comfort, although you could sleep naked. There’s a jasmine spray for spritzing in the bedroom and a variety of relaxing extras to help you to achieve a state of deep calm. Beside the bed is a little Book of Wellness, and earplugs and eye masks for the light and sound sensitive are provided.
Their beds and mattresses are all from the British bedding company, NaturalMat, hand made from natural fibres as the name suggests. All the mattresses are wired to track your sleep, with a pad underneath the mattress connecting to a device called a Withings Aura that will measure every aspect of your sleep. Throughout the night it will record the levels of your sleep cycles: light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. It will also record your average heart rate and temperature, monitor the noise and light and temperature of the room, and track your physiology as the lights in the bedroom dim with red light and the room is bathed in ambient sounds.
A word of warning! When visiting these wonderful sweet retreats, make sure that you are not ruining the experience by drinking too much alcohol if any. Enjoy eating a delicious meal, but remain ideally alcohol and caffeine free, crystal clear mineral water, and not eating too late or too much, should guarantee you a good night’s sleep, as long as you don’t stay up too late over-stimulating your brain with technology, news feeds and so on. The whole idea is to learn how to improve sleep, not to remain sleep deprived. The sleep hygiene list is the key wherever you travel will increase the chances of wonderful sleep every night.
In the mornings, you’ll awaken and after breakfast, you’ll be encouraged to get some sunlight first thing in the morning whatever the weather, participate in morning yoga classes, and later on your sleep stats will be assessed by their sleep expert.
You will next undergo a full health assessment, your bio markers will be measured for sleep, serotonin levels measured, BP, heart rate and variability, cholesterol, adrenaline and cortisol levels (the hormones that are released during stress), diet, weight, toxin buildup assessment and so on…
The day is filled with yoga classes, trips to wonderful restaurants or eating in wonderful restaurants in the spa, walking through woods by the river, meditating to the sound of Tibetan singing bowls, massages all designed to help improve the next night of sleep on the sleep stat review the next day.
Regardless of how exhausted you arrived, how bad your electronics digital addiction was, these breaks of sleep optimization and rest are just what the doctor ordered!
When it’s time to leave you’ll be relaxed, and in the state of oneness and wellbeing. You will have learned the importance of afternoon naps, no longer than thirty minutes in the early afternoon, your sleep training will have been completed, and you will be ready to return to real life and a sleep optimized nightlife. Available throughout the year. From £334 for three nights plus accommodation. sixsenses.com/
Here are a few other dreamy locations with a very small timezone difference as returning home with additional jet lag issues is not ideal for a sleep optimisation retreat.
Lefay Resort & Spa, Italy. Rediscover delicious sleep at their ‘Sweet Dreams’ sleep retreat with breakfast, lunch and dinner included, as well as acupuncture, moxibustion, foot, body and facial treatments with the focus on relaxation and getting a better night’s sleep. Available throughout the year. From £2,228 per person for five nights, lagodigarda.lefayresorts.com/
SHA Wellness Clinic, ‘sleep recovery program’ in Spain. For those with sleep disorders, this retreat has been designed to help you recover from insomnia, and improve overall sleep quality. The clinical approach with sleep assessment, with doctors consultation, session with a nutritionist, and many treatments over ideally their recommended 7-night minimum but ideally a full 14 night stay to achieve the best long term sleep results. Available throughout the year. From £3,300 for seven nights, shawellnessclinic.com/
I wish you a good night’s sleep.
Finally as a free gift from me, why not also download my ‘Better Sleep Drifting’ Relaxation for sleep MP3 download. Visit https://www.maxkirsten.com/better-sleep-mp3-download/
There is a new 21st-century phenomenon called vampire shopping, so named because sleep deprived bleary eyed parents, insomniacs and gamers go online to make purchases between 1am and 6am.
Barclaycard has reported that as many as one in three shoppers now spends more money online at night, compared to 5 years ago.
Vampire shoppers spend a third more than normal shoppers, most of whom are people who are not sleeping well, usually 1-4am er’s buying random stuff that they don’t really need, and sometimes even with nowhere to put it. 75% of people don’t send back the last thing they didn’t want!
Nocturnal shopping is a thing of the NOW.
Nocturnal shopping became possible thanks to the evolution of technological devices since the smartphone revolution. The ‘one click’ purchases on Amazon, Ebay, Paypal and other electronic payment systems makes shopping just so unbelievably easy, and therefore waiting until morning completely unnecessary when the sleep deprived make very often impulsive shopping bleary eyed random purchases before bed, or even when they wake up in the middle of their sleep (if they are experiencing bouts of insomnia), buying shoes, clothes, jewellery, and even ‘replacement lithium battery stocks after realising they’ve forgotten something essential, and two out of ten are ordering food shopping online.
And vampire economy is booming and is predicted to grow year on year, even though shoppers are often buying things that they often don’t even really need in a bleary eyed state such as holidays, and large pieces of furniture on impulse!
There are now calls for safety measures to be put into place, such as putting stops on buying habits or behavior from bedtime and to wake-up to curb out of control impulsive shopping habits. Shopping channels that broadcast late at night have known for a long time that there is a very lucrative market in vampires staying up late and feeling compelled to buy something that they’ve seen that they don’t really need, and then regret buying it or them in the morning.
And whether morally right or wrong, retailers are exploiting this new market. As humans and technology evolve driving this new lucrative ‘Vampire Economy’.
Top zombie hour vampire purchases are usually made on smart phones, tablets and laptops include: birthday presents, children’s toys, baby gear, vacuum cleaners and games consoles. Another popular late-night vampire purchase is an increasing river of new replacement pillows as people becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their sleep set-up.
There is also a growing trend to hide their arriving growing river of packages and daily deliveries in cupboards as the vampire shopping habits begin to cause embarrassment and shame. Others would call this form of late-night shopping ‘compulsive shopping’ leading towards compulsive ‘shopping addiction’.
Even bleary eyed a good question to ask before pressing the purchase button, is “Do I really need this?’ or perhaps a sensible law is to wait until the afternoon before deciding on whether to buy the item sitting in the basket at the checkout.
But maybe we shouldn’t be afraid of the ‘vampire shoppers’, and more worried about the sleepless zombies!
Cats sleep on average 15 hours each day, which if you think about it is most of their lives spent sleeping. Have you ever wondered what cats dream about?
Cats can sleep as much as 16 hours a day, and older cats spend even more time at rest — as much as 20 hours a day. That sleeping habit is a result of the cat’s evolution, nutritional habits and physiology. In the wild, cats have to hunt in order to eat, and the stalking, chasing and killing of prey burns a lot of energy. Sleeping helps cats conserve energy between meals. Of the time cats spend sleeping, about three quarters of it is what we might call snoozing. In that state, cats can get all the rest they need, but they’re still alert enough to awaken at a moment’s notice. You can tell when a cat is in light sleep because their ears will twitch and rotate toward noises and their eyes will be open a tiny bit. Even when they’re sitting upright, cats can slip into that dozing mode.
Do cats really dream?
The remaining quarter of cats’ sleeping hours is spent in deep sleep, but older cats might spend as much as 30 percent or 40 percent of the time at that level. Cats in deep sleep are usually curled up with their eyes tightly closed. Sometimes, they might even have their tail over their face, like a fluffy sleep mask. Deep sleep is critical for the body’s ability to regenerate itself and stay healthy. It’s also the time when your cat dreams.
By this point if you’re a dog lover, or horse lover, or an animal lover of any other type, you may have decided to switch off and perhaps mentally go to sleep. Aha!
But I will also be asking if dogs dream?
So feline cats sleep the most up to 20 hours on a 24-hour period. I remember being told that humans were the only conscious beings, capable of asking why, and then possibly doing something about it. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that just as all animals sleep, including humans. As I have watched a number of cats in my own house fast asleep, sometimes I see them dreaming, REM sleep, their eyelids are flickering, often sleeping on their backs, I can see the arms and legs moving slightly responding to their dream. But I have no way of knowing what they’re dreaming about?
In many ways cats are faster than us, more agile than us, and can hear better than us, and can hunt better than us, because their eyesight is so good day or night, and their reactions are quicker than ours!
I was interested in the research by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, who is a professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in New England, USA, who said in an article in Metro, that cats definitely dream.
He says that, ‘Cats exhibit all the physiological and behavioural characteristics of dreaming sleep in humans: low voltage fast wave activity, fast EEG activity – where the cerebral cortex (thinking centre) and hippocampus (memory centre) are active in the face of continued behavioural sleep.
‘Behavioural sleep is characterised by the absence of muscle potentials, super relaxed posture, unresponsiveness, and elevated auditory threshold.
‘This is the so-called the sleep of the body, where the mind is still active.
‘The fast wave EEG activity in periods of REM sleep is the dreaming phase of sleep.
What is REM sleep?
REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep is one of the four stages of sleep, and should take place every 90 minutes or so while you’re snoozing.
During REM sleep, your eyes will make distinctive movements while closed. This is when dreaming takes place. REM sleep is associated with maintaining important neural pathways and even learning new information. Your heartbeat during REM sleep will be rapid, which could be a response to the dreams you’re having.
‘These periods alternate with periods of slow wave sleep (the sleep of the mind) in which some muscle tone remains (the body is not totally relaxed) and there is no dreaming.
‘During the former fast wave sleep, rapid eye movements and twitching movements of the limbs, vibrissae and ears are seen.’
Just like humans, cats have periods of deep sleep where they are completely relaxed in their bodies, but their minds are actively dreaming. Dr. Dodman also has some ideas about what cats might dream about.
He says: ‘Like us, cats will probably dream about things that have gone on in the recent or distant past. ‘Maybe stalking a bird or mouse. Maybe being petted. Maybe an altercation with another cat or dog.’
Although dogs sleep slightly less than cats do, with adult dogs getting an average of 12-14 hours sleep a day, Dr. Dodman says that the brain activity present during sleep is remarkably similar.
‘The sleeping patterns of dogs, cats and humans are all very similar.
‘However, the phase length of REM sleep vs. slow wave sleep varies between individuals and between younger and older subjects.’ This means that the amount of dream time you get depends on your individual characteristics and your age. So potentially, cats and dogs could be dreaming just as much as you do.
If you see your cat’s little legs cycling or their ears twitching as they snooze, they’re probably having a satisfying dream about catching the bird that’s always mocking them from a high tree branch in the garden, or getting the better of the neighbour’s dog.
‘The perfect night’s sleep’ is Jarvis Cocker’s New Year’s Resolution for 2019
In this episode Sleep Coach Max Kirsten helps Jarvis Cocker find better sleep as he continues his nocturnal exploration of the human condition. He often lies awake at night trying, unsuccessfully, to nod off. But, not one to give up, his New Year’s resolution is to crack this habit and attain the perfect night’s sleep. His restless search leads him to fellow insomniac Marina Benjamin, and to even he go inside his own brain with The Sleep Coach Max Kirsten. A surreal experience.
During the writing of my NEW sleep book I was also contacted by SOMNEX The Sleep Show, and invited to speak as The Sleep Coach, and to offer one-to-one walk-in sleep clinic during the show! I will be there throughout the event, if you go to their website below you’ll be able to find out more details about the show, who all the speakers are including myself, what days they are speaking and when, I hope to see some of you there on the day.
As a speaker I can offer you a fantastic 40% off. Visitor tickets are currently £20 but if you enter the promo code: SPK40 when you book herehttps://bit.ly/2MdFI21you can get a ticket for just £12!
Visit SOMNEX | The Sleep Show on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 October (10am til 6pm) at The Old Truman Brewery in London.
Get exclusive access to expert advice, innovative new products, specialist exhibitors, multiple interactive workshops and immersive classes – all designed to help you understand how to improve your sleep and give you and your family a fun day out!
I’ve just written my new sleep coach book on sleep and insomnia, the do’s and don’ts for a great night’s sleep. The journey of writing this book began when my new publisher Penguin Random House, asked me if I would be interested in writing my own book on the subject of how to get better sleep. Since I’ve been wanting to write this sleep book for some time, I lept at the opportunity, after having done the deal, I began to write, and write, and write… So it’s been some time since I’ve posted a sleep blog.
During the process of writing intensely evenings and weekends and then even more than that, I was immersed in the world of sleep from a conscious point of view. I spoke to sleep scientists, sleep psychiatrists, sleep doctors, sleep experts, sleep technology manufacturers, sleep technologists, sleep surface manufacturers of pillows, mattresses and beds. I even looked at nutrition for better sleep.
And although I learned that sleep is a very subjective experience, that we’re all different, and therefore how much sleep we need or get will vary from person to person, and night to night. For many people at eight hours is the ideal amount, some are fine on just seven hours a night, fewer than you think can sleep for less than this without long-term health problems over the horizon, and that obviously children need the most sleep. But the truth is, almost all of us could improve the amount of sleep that we get get, or allow ourselves to have.
And the enemies of sleep, or at least good quality sleep are basically these:
1, Not enough natural sunlight during the day.
2, too much artificial light during the evening.
3, Not going to bed at the same time every night.
4, Not waking up at the same time every morning.
5, Too much smart phones and tablets and electronics in the crucial hours before bed.
5, Overstimulation of the mind before bed.
6, Too many stimulants, caffeine, nicotine, sugar affecting the metabolism at night.
7, Not getting enough exercise particular during the day.
8, Eating too late at night.
9, Not even close to following a sleep hygiene list.
10, Allowing worries and anxiety free-reign in your brain in bed.
12, Not understanding which the right foods to eat to sleep well in the evening are?
13, simply not understanding circadian rhythm, and production of melatonin sleep.
I could go on, as I’ve learned so much from writing my sleep book. Now I’m moving on to my insomnia sleep programs, so that when my sleep book is published early spring next year 2019, all my other sleep coaching tools will be ready to help the sleep deprived to become sleep inspired!