In Search of Better Sleep? Just Remember the 6/30 Rule

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

Does it feel like your sleep isn’t as restful as it could be? If quality sleep has been eluding you more than usual, a few simple science-backed lifestyle changes might be able to help—all you need to remember is the 6/30 rule.

The 6/30 Rule

Avoid caffeine for 6 hours before bed, and avoid screen time for 30 minutes before bed.

The first part of the 6/30 rule addresses caffeine consumption that might affect your sleep—but don’t worry, if you drink coffee or tea to keep you perked up throughout the day, this is by no means about giving it up. You can still enjoy your favorite brew, just don’t drink it too close to bedtime.

So when exactly should your caffeine cut-off point be? According a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, you should leave at least 6 hours between your last dose of caffeine and when you plan to go to sleep. The study measured the effects of caffeine on sleep when taken 0, 3 and 6 hours before bed, and even when caffeine was taken at the 6 hour mark, some major sleep disruptions still happened. That means if you’re usually a 10 PM bedtime kind of person, you shouldn’t drink anything caffeinated after 4 PM to minimize its effects on your sleep cycle.

As for the 30 in the 6/30, that’s all about limiting your screen time a little bit before bed. Using your phone (or a tablet, laptop, or even reading from an e-reader or watching TV) before bed has long been proven to impact sleep. According to, the blue light emitted from most screens restrains the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Not to mention, using a digital device before bed keeps your brain engaged, which tricks your body into staying up later. Plus, if you keep your phone in the room but don’t turn it off or put it on “do not disturb” mode, the notifications can disrupt your sleep and wake you up.

To keep your phone from interrupting your slumber, try going screen-free—and keeping your phone out of the bedroom or at least out of your bed—for 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep (an hour is even better, according to Harvard Business Review, but if you don’t want to give up too much phone or TV time, a half hour should do).

That’s all there is to it—no caffeine 6 less than hours before bed, no screen time 30 minutes before bed. It doesn’t require all that much effort and it just might make a difference in how well-rested you feel when you wake up.

Of course, while these changes are a good start on the way to a better night’s rest, they’re not a cure-all—if you’re facing serious sleep issues that are affecting your health or your day-to-day life, talk to your doctor.