A good night’s sleep is one of the most important, and underrated, activities to maintain good health. It makes you more productive, boosts your mood and strengthens your immune system. During sleep, your brain consolidates memories and learnings as well as repairing and creating new cells that are crucial for your brain function and memory. And it’s free.
It’s not just the number of hours you sleep either, you need to make sure you’re getting good quality sleep. So how can you achieve a good night’s sleep? Try following this simple and effective solution|: the 3-2-1 rule.
“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day” Matthew Walker
What is the 3-2-1 rule?
The 3-2-1 rule is a handy guideline that can help you optimise your sleep hygiene and improve your sleep quality.
3 hours before bed: No more heavy meals
Heavy meals or sugary snacks in the hours leading up to bedtime can make you uncomfortable before sleep. Food can cause indigestion, reflux and bloating for some people which makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Eating late can also throw off your circadian rhythm, which is your natural body clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
Ditch the alcohol too in the run up to bedtime, too. While alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy, it can actually disrupt your sleep quality, by reducing the amount of REM sleep and causing more frequent awakenings during the night.
2 hours before bed: No work or admin
Let your mind slow down and unwind by removing work emails, projects or presentation prep at least 2 hours before sleep. Your brain will keep ticking and thinking as you prepare for sleep, meaning it’ll be If you get better sleep, you’ll be more productive in the day time (unless your chronotype is a Wolf - then we’ll let you off).
1 hour before bed: No screens
No more electronic screens. Yup, that means no more scrolling through social media or binge-watching Netflix. The blue light emitted by electronic screens can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, and make it harder for you to drift off. Bright light exposure between 10pm and 4pm also suppresses the release of dopamine, the brain chemical that controls your motivation, making it harder for you to get out of bed in the morning.
“When sleep is abundant, minds flourish. When it is deficient, they don't.”
What’s the 10-3-2-1 rule?
This is the same rule with an added step: no caffeine 10 hours before bedtime.
That means no more coffee, tea, or energy drinks after lunch. Caffeine and sleep aren’t friends. Caffeine has a half-life of 5-7 hours so your body will feel the stimulating effects hours after you consume your oat flat white. This makes it harder to fall asleep, reduces the amount of deep sleep, and causes more frequent awakenings during the night.
Try the 3-2-1 rule for a week
Try following the 3-2-1 sleep rule for a week, and see how you feel. It’s likely you’ll have better sleep quality, more energy during the day, and improved overall health and well-being.
Of course, the 3-2-1 rule is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to good sleep hygiene. Other good sleep habits include sticking to a regular sleep schedule (other wise known as sleep syncing), creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 technique.