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 fat 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 cut out caffeine: It takes 10 hours for your body to fully clear caffeine.  Ironically, your afternoon coffee is compromising your ability to sleep, which makes you feel like you need an afternoon coffee.  Break that cycle with more hydration and having your last coffee by mid to late morning.  A quick walk or stretch break can help you get through any afternoon slumps until you’ve fully established this habit.

3 hours before bed no more alcohol: It is a common myth that alcohol helps you fall asleep.  Unfortunately, brain scan studies show that the “sleep” we get while alcohol is in our system isn’t actually sleep, it’s sedation.  The difference is that your brain and body are not doing the vital sleep time functions you need when you are just sedated.

2 hours before bed no more work: This one is especially important if you tend to go to bed worrying about all the stuff you didn’t get done and all the stuff you still need to do.  Of course you can’t shut your brain off if you’re doing work until the moment you want to try to fall asleep.  I highly recommend having a “fall asleep” book that is easy/distracting reading as part of your evening routine.  Make sure it is on paper and not on a screen that is back lit because…

1 hour before bed no more screen time: The blue light that is in back lit screens suppresses the release of melatonin.  Plus the alerts and typical content we consume on our screens (unhinged political rants from the dumbest people we’ve ever seen) doesn’t exactly help you relax and fall into restful sleep.  Some phones have different “evening modes” now but I would not trust them.  That is still a backlit screen, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see it.  Again, a paper book is your friend here.

0 is the number of times you hit the snooze button: The “sleep” you get after hitting snooze never leaves you more restful.  It just leaves you more rushed and more frustrated because you are literally starting the day by breaking a promise to yourself.  If you struggle with hitting the snooze, make your alarm clock not reachable unless you get out of bed.  Also, don’t use your phone as your alarm clock.

Our first location serves Portsmouth, Kittery, and the broader Seacoast community.  Our new location serves Kingston and the broader southern New Hampshire community.   We help people strength train, walk daily, and eat real food.


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