First of all, I'm not a Gwyneth hater. I loved her in Sliding Doors and Shakespeare in Love. But I'm not exactly a die-hard fan, either. I don't often read her website, Goop, and I've never tried any of her out-there suggestions like vaginal steaming. But when I found out that Goop: Clean Beauty, the new book by the editors of her site, had sleep advice from Ms. Paltrow herself, I was intrigued.
I'm already a decent sleeper and generally clock between 7 and 8 hours most nights (which some folks find surprising since I'm a mother of 5-year-old twins), but unlike my husband, I don't fall asleep instantly, and I always get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Could channeling my inner Paltrow help me fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep until the sound of my alarm? I was ready to find out. Here's what happened when I tried to implement Gwyneth's top sleep tips:
I found some suggestions surprisingly easy to follow.
Clean Beauty suggests going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day, something I was already doing. Most nights I do my best to be in bed by 11 PM, and I wake up around 7 AM—either due to the need to pee or the fact that my twins have decided to bum-rush our bedroom. In fact, I'm so conditioned to these hours that even on kid-free vacations, I still wake up at the crack of dawn.
Paltrow and company also suggest spending time outdoors during the day so that your body can get in sync with the sun's schedule. Having two little kids also means I've got this one covered. I'm always exposed to plenty of daylight, even if most of it is on a playground.
Staying away from caffeine later in the day, avoiding sleep aides (no Ambien here), and making sure my bedroom is completely dark at bedtime were also done, done, and done.
Others were more of a challenge.
Paltrow suggests unplugging at the end of the day for better sleep. This one was hard—I mean who doesn't love to take a quick peek at Instagram during those middle-of-the-night bathroom trips? But I had to admit that I'd read this advice before from sleep experts, so I left my phone on the night table untouched. And it totally worked; I found that staying away from my phone when I got up to use the bathroom helped me fall back asleep much more quickly.
It didn't make a bit of difference when I ate.
The book also recommends fasting for 12 hours for optimal sleep. So, if dinner is at 7 PM, you can't eat again until 7 AM the next morning. This one was difficult since my husband and I usually eat dinner after the kids are in bed around 8 or 9 PM and then have an early breakfast. I modified my schedule, and had to admit that it was nice eating dinner earlier with the kids. But it didn't have any impact on my sleep.
I discovered how much I hate body oil.
Already an avid bath-taker, I had to agree with the book's statement that taking a bath is "an especially amazing way to end the day." Most evenings after my kids go to sleep, I take a bath with some bubbles or salts. Of course, Paltrow's baths are a step above.
The Goop editors recommend adding body oil to the water "to combat the bath's drying effect on the skin." The book suggests oil with aromatherapeutic scents so I got myself some SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Bath Body & Massage Oil and added it to the water. The smell was nice, but I found myself sliding around the tub. And while the scent was certainly relaxing, I did not appreciate the greasy Wesson oil feeling I was left with. Either way, taking a bath definitely made me feel more relaxed and ready for bed—but I already knew that.
No, you don't need to go to a spa to unwind.
Goop understands that a visit to a spa is a luxury (you think?) and wisely suggests that readers enlist the help of a "friend/lover" to administer an evening foot rub. I love getting massages, professional or otherwise, so I had no problem asking my husband to rub my feet in the name of better sleep. And I've got to say, it really did make me more relaxed and sleepy.
My husband, though, naturally thinks that any type of massage is a prelude to sex. Goop says that "massaging your feet (or someone else's) for just 3 minutes will make anyone's night better" and well, that definitely was the case for my hubs.
Meditation is most definitely not my answer.
Goop encourages readers to find recordings of yoga nidra meditation online. After listening to this for just a few minutes, I was done. I find it hard to not think about other things during any meditation practice in a yoga class, and this was no different. Sorry, but for me, the best prelude to sleep is more likely to be an episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend than yoga nidra.
There’s no need for fancy copper pillowcases.
Finally, Paltrow is a proponent of using copper infused pillowcases to reduce wrinkles. Although they sound like they'd be weird, the Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase With Copper Oxide I tried just felt like a normal, satiny pillowcase. But my face looked exactly the same after sleeping on this pillowcase. And I'm not sure how having fewer wrinkles leads to a better night's sleep. Maybe you're less stressed if you look smoother? No idea.
Another suggestion was to make my pillowcase smell more indulgent. "Spritzing your sheets with a combination of essential oils and water is an ancient practice worth reviving," advises Goop. I dutifully spritzed my sheets with Rosewater Driftwood Linen and Room Spray and placed my head on the pillow, pretending I was in the south of France, as the book suggested. Sure, spritzing the sheets was a nice touch—but I still knew I was in Brooklyn and not at La Colombe d'Or.
This article originally appeared on Prevention.