Forget clean eating—the hottest health trend for 2017 is clean sleeping. At least, that’s what Gwyneth Paltrow says. But what the heck is it?
According to an article Gwyneth penned for the Daily Mail to promote her new book, Clean Beauty, it’s simple: Get a solid seven to eight hours of sleep each night (nine if you can swing it).
“Sleep plays such a powerful role in determining your appetite and energy levels that I believe it should be your first priority—even before you think about your diet,” she writes. “Poor-quality sleep can be unsettling for the metabolism and hormones, which can lead to weight gain, bad moods, impaired memory and brain fog, as well as serious health concerns such as inflammation and reduced immunity (which can increase your risk of chronic disease). And it goes without saying that poor sleep is terrible from a beauty perspective.”
It sounds legit, but is clean sleeping just the latest health fad to make the rounds? After all, other than your sheets, how do you really clean up your sleep anyhow? “The only thing new about this trend is the name,” says Mark Joseph Buchfuhrer, M.D., the medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. “We’ve been trying to get this message out [about good-quality sleep] for over 25 years, but if this helps get it more attention, she [Paltrow] can call it whatever she wants.”
And while Buchfuhrer isn’t an internationally-famous blonde bombshell, he is a top-notch doctor and sleep researcher—and therefore an expert at giving trusted medical advice. So when he says that Paltrow is dead right about the toll bad sleep takes on your health, we believe him.
But we know, we know: In our modern age of 24/7 work emails, Netflix binges, and online shopping, achieving clean sleep is easier said than done. Instead of freaking out about it—or scoffing the idea away completely—Buchfuhrer says to take a chill pill.
“Focusing too much on sleeping actually makes you sleep worse,” he says. So rather than stress about potential insomnia, he recommends making bedtime all about relaxing. Take a bath, meditate, read a book and, surprisingly, make a point to be grateful for your good sleep rather than angry about bad sleep. This simple mental shift can have big results, he says.
Notice what wasn’t on his list of relaxing bedtime activities? Your phone. Or any electronic gadgets, for that matter. One of the first things he tells his patients to do is ditch the tech one to three hours before bedtime. “The screens emit light that corresponds to daylight, which signals to your brain it’s time to be awake and reduces melatonin production,” says Buchfuhrer. And you definitely don’t want to mess with your melatonin—it’s the hormone responsible for helping you feel sleepy enough to hit the sack. Your body naturally increases it as the day moves into evening, but bright lights turn that switch off.
If you absolutely must use a phone or tablet at night, then Buchfuhrer suggests installing an app like Twilight (free on Android or f.lux (free on iTunes), both of which gradually change the wavelength of light your screen emits from energizing white light to a more relaxing red light as it gets later.
Next, set up your bedroom. Start by investing in a comfortable pillow, then lower the temperature in your room. The best sleep environment is a little cooler than you’d think—about 65 degrees Fahrenheit for most people, says Buchfuhrer. And make sure you’re only using your bed only for sleep and sex. Buchfuhrer adds that you want your mind to associate it with rest…not Netflix.
Of course, as Gwyneth has proven by now, lifestyle changes can also help clean up your sleep. Buchfuhrer says to skip fatty foods and booze before bed, especially if you’re prone to heartburn, and ditch the crap in your life that causes more stress than it’s worth. (New Year’s resolution, anyone?) Squeezing in a 30-minute workout three to four days a week can help, too.
But if you do all of that and still can’t fall asleep—or stay asleep—then Buchfuhrer has two words for you: Get. Up.
“The number-one sleep mistake I see people make is lying awake in bed for hours,” he says. If it's been more than 10 minutes, get up, move to a different room and do something quiet and boring, like reading a dull book, he advises. Turn on a minimal amount of light and, whatever you do, don’t play on your phone or watch TV.
Do these simple things to “clean up” your sleep habits and Buchfuhrer promises you’ll be snoozing like a baby in no time. (Well, hopefully better than a baby—have you seen how they sleep?) And here’s the best part: You don’t have to be a celebrity with unlimited funds to do it.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.