I have never been a great sleeper. Whilst I’m typically an early riser, most days I tend to find myself feeling like I could have done with at least a couple more hours sleep. And when you’re regularly leaving the house already imagining getting back into your bed, it’s probably time to tackle the problem.
Plus the older I get the more I find myself looking in the mirror and wondering if my eyes have always been this shade of pink around the outside. I’m also deluded so like to imagine that if I slept more I’d probably have the skin of a baby and be at least a dress size thinner – putting my unhealthy appearance down to not sleeping enough much in the same way that those people on secret eaters conveniently forget about the ten drive through macdoh’s they regularly consume and instead blame ‘not drinking enough water’ for their fatness.
Not one to do things by halves I decided to head to the holy grail of holistic health. The famed and often ridiculed GOOP. If Gwyneth can’t help me sleep then who can, I ask you?
In my mind Gwyneth glides out of bed every morning, refreshed and smelling of lightly dusted talcum powder and fresh laundry. Her hair is silky and soft, her skin dewy in the morning light. Birds sing her into her copper plated shower and Andrex puppies change her silk pillowcases ready for another nights deep sleep.
Gwyneth probably doesn’t wake up with breath like a badgers arse and hair that looks as though Edward Scissorhands had reanimated in female form. Gwyneth has probably never worn her pyjama bottoms to work and insisted they were trousers because she was just too damn tired and cold to take them off.
I bet Gwyneth doesn’t have to set alarms labelled things like “wash your hair you look like an old witch” or “please for the love of god get in the shower” or “get up you lazy bitch”.
I bet Gwyneth never cumulatively spent five hundred pounds in the space of a month because she failed to get up on time to make breakfast every single day and had to buy a cheese and tomato croissant from pret plus a coffee plus an unnecessary love bar that no one wants or needs.
I bet Gwyneth doesn’t know what it’s like to wake up in a blind panic, knowing that an alarm has been slept through without having to even look at the clock. I bet she has never experienced the kind of sweating that only occurs when you’ve run, fresh from your bed, full pelt to the tube station in -2 degrees and then hit the furnace of the central line and had to remove ten layers and hold them between your knees whilst business men sit comfortably and pointedly ignore the fact that your face is entirely liquid.
No. I bet she does not know what that’s like.
So in the hope of transforming myself into a beaming ray of sunshine I put her GOOP sleeping guide to the test.
Here we go:
Wake up right
GOOP says: If you need an alarm clock to wake you up, it’s a sign you’re not sleeping right. Alarm clocks interrupt the sleep cycle and prevent sleep from completing naturally, pushing sleep problems into succeeding days. Dawn simulation devices are much more effective at establishing a healthy sleep cycle and gently rousing you from sleep.
Riiiiiiight. I mean… so far not so convinced. Times where I have forgotten to set my alarm clock have not usually resulted in me bouncing out of bed with the lark. In fact they have usually resulted in me sweating profusely on the tube as outlined above. Still God loves a trier so I threw myself into this one.
A note on the ‘dawn simulation devices’. I typed this into google at work but unfortunately suffered a typo that meant I was directed to page after page of scary looking vibrators and was subsequently reported to IT for inappropriate content. YAY. So I opted to just leave my curtains open. I’m not sure Gwyneth would approve but…I’m sure she’d disapprove of many other things on this blog before my unwillingness to buy a Dawn Simulation Device.
In practice: drift cautiously off to sleep about as relaxed as if I had lowered myself into a shark infested tank whilst covered in blood. Wake up at 2.30am, 3.30am and 5am, sitting bolt upright into the darkness and scrambling for my phone (YES GWYNETH I USE MY PHONE AS AN ALARM CLOCK SORRY) and then heaving a sigh of relief when realising I still have a while, nay HOURS, before I have to be up. The last time this happens it is 5.30am. The next time I open my eyes it is 10 past eight and I was supposed to have left the house 20 minutes ago.
Safe to say my sleep cycle does not feel healthy. Sorry Gwyneth the alarm clock might have to stay.
Maintain a sense of calm throughout the day
GOOP says: Maintaining a sense of calm throughout the day is essential for restoring normal sleep chemistry.
I mean…I’m a fairly laidback person. Probably a bit too laidback if you asked my mum/bank manager/anyone who asked me to remember to pick something up from the shops for them. It turns out however that I am terrible at keeping myself calm when it really counts.
Hey guys – hands up if you’re 28 years old and you still cry when you get lost!
Just me? Cool.
But hey – if I can keep calm anywhere surely it must be here in Melbourne. The sun is shining, everyone is borderline infuriatingly happy and relaxed (no worries is a national catchphrase I swear) and I live with three wonderful humans who make coming home feel like the best thing in the world.
In practice: head to work full of joie de vivre and emanating calmness. Determined to channel Gwyneth I wear a floaty white dress that I bought after five aperol spritzes at a ‘boho luxe market’ for roughly the same price as my rent (I did not feel calm after that). I am ethereal, I am light, I am a bit sweaty but trying not to mind. I buy a green juice to bring balance to my…umm…whatever needs balance. I am winning at calm life.
Sadly then my ex texts me to say he’s ‘really sorry’ about cheating on me circa six months ago (congratulations on your finding those morals buddy) and my stomach falls out my arse. Whilst I am gratified that instead of total devastation I mainly feel intense irritation, there really is nothing calm about shouting ‘OH FOR FUCKS SAKE’ in the middle of your work lobby.
I’m not sure what Gwyneth would do in this situation but I think kicking her bag and splattering green juice all over her white smock is not one of them.
I am SO well adjusted.
Needless to say I try to sleep that night and end up lying awake watching queer eye until 3am, crying and saying things like “Yaaaasss Jonathan I AM a strong, beautiful queen”.
Better luck next time.
GOOP says: Caffeine, even in small doses, blocks sleep neurotransmitters, the calming chemicals your body makes to make you sleepy. If you have a problem with sleep, you must cut out all caffeinated beverages, even your morning cup of coffee.
In practice: No.
Eat In Accordance With Your Body Rhythms
GOOP says: Our digestive system function peaks at lunchtime, so most of your food should be eaten by then. Your metabolism slows down in the late afternoon, leaving you poorly prepared to digest a large dinner; in other words: have a small one. Eat it early, at least 3 hours before going to sleep. Give your body a chance to recover and rebuild, instead of having to work on digestion while you sleep.
I’m not sure how to find out what my body rhythms are but if I had to make a guess I’d say they were pretty slow and laboured.
One time I went on a detox retreat with my mum only for basically the entire retreat to be told that their dosha was characterised by low weight, a tendency to forget to eat and a lively and enthusiastic nature.
On the other hand when I researched my dosha google told me it was characterised by a ‘broad, stout frame’ and ‘thick, moist skin’.
It is not unlike the time I went to an event with my two impossibly blond supermodel esque friends G and E and we did a test to find out our spirit animals. They got a fox and a wolf.
What was yours I hear you cry?
In practice: I feel that investigating my body rhythms may reveal similarly upsetting results so I decide to ignore this tip.
Create an electronic shut down
GOOP says: By 10pm, stop sitting in front of your computer or TV screen and switch off all other electronic devices. They are too stimulating to the brain and inhibit the release of these sleep neurotransmitters.
Oh gahd this is what I feared. I have been resolutely ignoring my ever growing reliance on electronic devices and I fear this may force me to confront it.
In my early twenties I was famously crap with my phone. I never charged it, I left it just about everywhere, pigeon post was faster than my response time for texts. An ex-boyfriend and I had a fight that ended in him saying “if you didn’t realise this, I will spell it out. Sending me a text saying ‘I need to tell you something’ and then not replying for four days is unacceptable”.*
*incidentally the thing I needed to tell him was that a cheese based restaurant had opened down my road. Sozzer.
But thennnnnn – I moved to the other side of the world. And my phone has become my most valued possession. As I drunkenly told my colleague as she backed away from me slowly with a polite smile ‘I feel like it’s a little box full of the people I love’.
I am making SO.MANY.FRIENDS.
I also am unable to sleep without some sort of background noise. Usually something I’ve seen 100 times before like Peep Show. Unless I’m sharing a bed with someone I’m dating in which case I’m usually fine. Please don’t analyse that.
What I do know is that if I’m on my own and I don’t have something on in the background my brain likes to take me on a really fun nostalgic trip down memory lane to all the times I have offended people, embarrassed myself or that time I high fived a waiter who was holding out his hand for my menu. OH GOD.
In practice: Force myself to shut my laptop at 8pm to begin my electronic shutdown. I set my phone screen to night time mode and try to look at it as little as possible. I have a bath and then settle into my bed to read my book feeling smug af. I have to say I do fall asleep quicker than anticipated and in the morning I feel much more rested. Probably as a result of not waking up in the night to my laptop blaring the dulcet tones of Mark Corrigan into my ear. The thought of doing this every night is slightly daunting but resolve to at least try and turn everything off an hour before bed in the hope that I might turn into Gwyneth.
Sleep on a copper infused pillow case
GOOP says: Copper plays a role in helping to boost elastin and collagen in the skin and is believed to have antimicrobial properties that fight bacteria and could help tame the spots and acne that can re-appear in middle age.
Oh Gwyneth. That copper pillowcase costs more than my entire bed. Whilst i’m clearly no expert on sleep I don’t think that lying on a pillowcase thinking ‘why on earth did i spend so much on this pillowcase that is the same colour as a digestive biscuit’ will help me drop off.
In practice: spend money on wine instead
Avoid alcohol before bed
GOOP says: Because of alcohol’s sedating effect, many people drink to promote sleep. Alcohol does have an initial sleep inducing effect, but as it gets broken down by the body it sends the wrong metabolic signals which can cause you to wake up later on. It usually impairs sleep during the second half of the night leading to a reduction in overall sleep time.
Ok so here’s the thing. I reckon it’s really easy not to drink alcohol when you live in LA and everyone talks in hushed whispers about their dog’s behavioural therapist and sips candula tea. (Can you tell I’ve never been to LA?)
Plonk yourself in the middle of London on a grey day after a long day at work and a letter from the bank telling you they’ve figured out you’re not a student five years later and you’ll have to start paying back your overdraft and it’s damn near impossible to avoid the pub. My friend G and I once got into our gym kit, lay down on a mat in the weights area and then immediately left to have some red wine because…well frankly we just couldn’t be arsed.
It’s easier in Melbourne, the land of the healthy happy people and shockingly I’ve been barely drinking during the week. I know…I…I know.
However I do just think even Gwyneth would have a wine or five if she went on a road trip and realised that the ‘two bed luxury apartment’ she had booked was infact one small room with two beds on a precarious mezzanine and one bed in the kitchen and was simultaneously infested with gigantic flying cockroaches. I think in that case she too would drink a bottle of rose to herself, cross her fingers and pass out.
In practice: see above…
2/10 (CAMM ANN)
Create a night time routine
In practice: Keen to throw myself into this one I head straight home from work and immediately begin my ‘routine’. I have a bath which is made ever so slightly less relaxing by the fact that our resident spider appears to have accrued a rather poisonous looking pal that I keep a firm eye on throughout (not something Gwyneth has to contend with I shouldn’t imagine).
I wash my face, exfoliate and apply every oil, serum and eye cream I own by the light of a lavender candle murmuring things like ‘gooooooop’ and ‘mindfulness’ to myself. I hop into freshly washed sheets (K marts finest – no copper pillows here I’m afraid) that I’ve spritzed with neom sleep spray that my friend bought me for my birthday and smells like a dream.
I shut my eyes and try to relax.
Ohhhhmmmmm…..mindfulness….gooop….mmmmmaybe just one quick look at my phone….it’s only 9.30 after all…..
Holy shit it is 2am and I am watching a live stream of a blogger I don’t know packing her suitcase to go on holiday. WHY – HOW? GWYNETH WOULD NEVER DO THIS.