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The 10, 3, 2, 1, 0 Rule of Better Sleep

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The 10, 3, 2, 1, 0 Rule of Better Sleep

Whether you are looking to get more energy, stay healthy, lose weight, or just maintain your sanity, sleep is vital.  If you aren’t getting 7-8 hours of restful sleep per night consistently, you absolutely have to address this.  Short term, you’ll feel much better, have more patience, and more energy.  Medium term, it is far easier to eat well, recover from workouts, and lose weight when your sleep is not compromised.  Long term, you are reducing your chances for cancer and cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  For my super humans that think you only need 5-6 hours of sleep, the results are in and you need more.  It will catch up with you.

What do we need to do to get better sleep?  We need better sleep hygiene and the simplest strategy I have found is the 10, 3, 2, 1, 0 Rule.  I’ll break down each of these:

10 hours before bed, no more caffeine.  It takes at least 10 hours to fully flush the caffeine out of your system.  This one never wins me any friends but the reality is, the more you go for coffee to fix your mid afternoon slump, the worse you sleep and the worse your mid afternoon slump is.  If you avoid things that cause a sugar crash after lunch and get quality sleep, you won’t have the mid afternoon slump.  The only way to defeat it is by cutting the caffeine earlier in the day.

3 hours before bed, no more food or alcohol.  Again it takes time to digest and it takes time to process the alcohol.  I am a fan of also cutting the booze completely from weeknights.  While many think that a nightcap can help you sleep, brain studies of subjects sleep have shown that with alcohol it isn’t sleep you are getting but sedation.  When that sedation wears off, typically in the middle of the night, it is hard to stay asleep.

2 hours before bed, no more work.  “I just can’t get my mind to shut off” is a common thing I hear from clients.  I get it and I have been there.  You have to enforce this boundary so that you can allow your brain to unwind.  Grab a book 2 hours before bed and you’ll allow your mind to relax, refocus, and fall asleep.

1 hour before bed, no more electronics.  All of our electronics emit blue light that disrupts the body’s ability to sense day/night transitions and emit melatonin, which helps us go to sleep.  We have evolved to be guided by sunrises and sunsets for our sleeping rhythm.  Our lit and backlit world of electronic light disrupts that and the glow of our phone is one of the worst offenders.  Ditching the phone is also a good idea because most of the time, the mindless scrolling late in the day is just introducing us to stuff to get pissed off about.  You don’t need to see someone’s angry rant right as you’re trying to fall asleep!

0 is the amount of times you should hit snooze.  There are a couple mental reasons I think this rule is important but first, the practical.  Whatever sleep you are getting between snoozes is not leaving you more rested.  It is just wasting your time and setting your morning up for hectic failure.  I also think it is destructive to start the day by breaking a promise to yourself.  When we hit snooze we are choosing short term comfort at our own expense.  It is not something we want to be practicing regularly or starting our day with.  Get up!  Get moving!  Move your alarm so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off.  You’ll be glad you did : )

There you have it!  I will say that I often get pushback from at least one of two of these rules.  “I can drink a pot of coffee and fall right asleep” or “alcohol doesn’t mess with my sleep”.  Whatever you say but if your sleep has not been good, it might be time to stop thinking you are the exception to the rules : )

Sleep is something we harp on a lot because it’s an important part of an integrated, whole lifestyle approach to your health and fitness.  You can get a lot right with your workouts and a lot right with your nutrition but if your sleep is off, you will find the results are painfully slow.  With sleep on your side, so many other struggles melt away and progress comes more easily.  It’s a beautiful thing!  If you are ready to have a personal trainer in your corner.

When you're ready to talk with a Personal Trainer about your goals, fill out the form on the top or bottom of this screen and I will be in touch : )

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