Centr trainer Luke Zocchi stands facing the camera with his eyes close and resting his head, cheek t
Centr Team

Is 10-3-2-1-0 the formula for better sleep?

Centr Team

You know the numbers you’re lifting in the gym. You know the precise amount of protein powder you mix into every smoothie. But do you know the numbers you need for better sleep?

We’re not talking about how many hours you’re currently getting, although that’s important: adults need 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.

We’re not talking about the sleep score on your fitness tracker, either.

The numbers that could matter are those in the 10-3-2-1-0 sleep rule – and this is how they could help you unlock a better night’s rest.

10 hours before bed: No more caffeine

The effects of everyone’s favorite stimulant usually kick in within an hour of consumption. As for how long it takes to wear off, well, that varies – according to the US FDA, it can take 4-6 hours for your body to metabolize half of the caffeine you consumed.

Whatever your preferred source, it’s safe to assume that consuming caffeine too late in the day is going to mess with your sleep. Let’s say you have a coffee because you’re staying up late to finish an assignment or pick up your kids from a party – when you do finally make it to bed, you’re going to struggle to switch off.

So keep that caffeine to 10 hours before your regular bedtime. And if you decide to swap out that second coffee for another beverage or snack, don’t forget that caffeine is also present in many sodas, sports drinks and foods.

3 hours before bed: No food or alcohol

We’re not saying eat dinner at 5pm. But raiding the fridge for a late-night snack? It’s not doing your sleep any favors, and could even be disrupting your circadian rhythm.

You’re forcing the organs and muscles that digest and metabolize food to keep working instead of resting, which can prevent you from falling into a deep sleep. And because life isn’t fair, women’s sleep patterns are more likely to be impacted than men’s.

The extra calories you’re getting from that binge-watch snacking can also end up stored as fat.

As for that nightly glass of wine to wind down, alcohol may send you off to sleep quickly, but even moderate amounts can disrupt your sleep cycle. As your body works to metabolize alcohol, you’re likely to get less deep and REM sleep. Once the metabolizing is done, you’re more likely to sleep lightly and wake frequently, leaving you to deal with all the consequences of a low-quality night’s rest the next day.

If that’s how you’re feeling today, we have some tips to get through it.

2 hours before bed: No more work

It may be tempting to check your email or get a head start on tomorrow before going to bed, but your mind needs time to relax and decompress.

You probably already have some level of stress if you’re checking your work emails late at night, and it’s only going to escalate if a problem that can’t be resolved at that hour lands in your inbox.

Why not shake off your day by trying a stress-relieving Yin Yoga session with Tahl Rinsky instead?

Or get those racing thoughts out onto paper by journaling – our guided audio will help if you’re not sure what to write.

1 hour before bed: No more screens

One last scroll on your socials, watching a YouTube video… It’s so easy to reach for the phone as you settle into bed.

While the idea that blue light from screens destroys sleep is prevalent, this myth has been busted in recent years. New research has shown its impacts to be minimal, with melatonin levels returning to normal 15 minutes after switching off the source of blue light.

But that doesn’t mean we recommend taking your laptop, tablet and phone to bed. Using devices will keep your mind alert and engaged, rather than helping you to switch off.

Doomscrolling in particular boomed during the pandemic, with research showing it can impact mental and physical health.

Use your phone as a force for good by hitting play on a Centr sleep visualization, then place it face down on the bedside table and follow Chris’s voice to a deep, restorative sleep.

0 minutes after your alarm goes off: Get up!

That’s right, instead of hitting snooze in the morning, take that alarm as your literal cue to get out of bed. If you’re repeatedly slapping the snooze button to get an extra 5 minutes’ sleep, you could actually be making yourself more groggy for the day ahead.

In the early morning, before we wake, we’re usually in the REM stage of sleep, our minds active and dreaming. Dipping in and out of this state can increase what’s known as sleep inertia – a feeling of grogginess, slow thinking and disorientation.

This usually dissipates within 15-30 minutes of waking, but a study of Japanese students found that repeated use of the snooze button can increase sleep inertia and fatigue.

Waking up to an alarm from deep sleep can also activate your fight or flight response. While your body may be able to deal with the increased heart rate and cortisol levels the first time, the shock and stress is going to add up if you hit ‘snooze’ again and again.

Looking for a little more help in the bedroom? Discover more tips for better sleep in our ultimate guide.

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