April 05, 2024 3 min read

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of US adults report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep [1]. A recent study has confirmed this to be the case, with the prevalence of US adults saying they sleep poorly hovering around 30% [2]. 


With so many sleep-deprived people in the country, there’s a growing need to find solutions. From tips to working on your sleep hygiene to the  military sleep method and the 4-7-8 breathing method, there’s no shortage of tips that promise to help you sleep better. And one of the latest of these hacks that’s gone viral is the 10-3-2-1-0 method. Here’s what it is and why it works. 

What Is the 10-3-2-1-0 Method for Sleep?

The 10-3-2-1-0 method is a sleep hack shared on social media by Dr. Jess Andrade, a board-certified physician with expertise in sleep health. Dr. Andrade shared her hack on an Instagram reel back in 2021, explaining that it covers sleep hygiene basics. The method goes as follows: 


10 hours before bedtime, stop drinking coffee. 

Caffeine takes about 10 hours to get cleared out of your system, according to Andrade. It is a stimulant and, as such, can interfere with sleep [3]. 


3 hours before bed, avoid food and alcohol. 

Not eating close to bedtime can help you avoid reflux, which can interfere with sleep. And as for alcohol, it’s known to impair the brain’s normal sleep cycles, leading to unrefreshing sleep. 


2 hours before hitting the sack, finish all work.

Leave any unfinished tasks for the next day. Your brain needs to unwind for the night, and work can be overstimulating and prevent you from falling asleep on time.


1 hour before going to bed, avoid screen time.

Blue light emitted from electronic devices was found to decrease sleep duration and quality [4]. That’s because blue light suppresses the brain’s release of melatonin, a hormone necessary for sleep.


0 is how many times you should hit “snooze”

Waking up and then falling back asleep again might seem like a good way to squeeze in a few more minutes of refreshing sleep. But this habit could be triggering your body’s fight or flight response [5], increasing stress hormone levels and making you feel tired during the day.

Why It Works

As already mentioned this sleep hack covers the basics of good sleep hygiene. In case you’re not familiar: sleep hygiene is a practice developed several decades ago as a simple method to treat insomnia. It’s considered best practice for long-term sleep improvement and may work for some cases of insomnia [6].

Sleep is an essential bodily process. But unlike some other bodily processes — like breathing, circulation, and digestion — it requires a little bit of effort to be done right. Just like developing good dietary habits and ensuring we get enough physical activity, we also need to pay attention to our sleep. One way to do that is to follow good practices proven to promote quality sleep, which the 10-3-2-1-0 rule does. 


References:

  1. Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Reviewed: September 7, 2022.https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html

  1. Di H, Guo Y, Daghlas I, et al. Evaluation of Sleep Habits and Disturbances Among US Adults, 2017-2020.JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(11):e2240788. Published 2022 Nov 1.doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.40788

  1. Clark I, Landolt HP. Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials.Sleep Med Rev. 2017;31:70-78.doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.006

  1. Silvani MI, Werder R, Perret C. The influence of blue light on sleep, performance and wellbeing in young adults: A systematic review.Front Physiol. 2022;13:943108. Published 2022 Aug 16.doi:10.3389/fphys.2022.943108

  1. Ogawa K, Kaizuma-Ueyama E, Hayashi M. Effects of using a snooze alarm on sleep inertia after morning awakening.J Physiol Anthropol. 2022;41(1):43. Published 2022 Dec 31.doi:10.1186/s40101-022-00317-w

  1. Baranwal N, Yu PK, Siegel NS. Sleep physiology, pathophysiology, and sleep hygiene.Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2023;77:59-69.doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2023.02.005



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