If you need to get some rest — and fast — then you may want to try a few military-approved
tricks for falling asleep. Even when you're stressed, and even when you're not in the coziest of environments, the military swears by these sleep hacks, to help them get to sleep.
This method first came to our attention when the lifestyle website
shared the Joe two-minute sleep trick used by the US military, which was originally published in the book way back in 1981. Relax and Win: Championship Performance
The post quickly caught attention, with it's easy — but apparently very effective — tips for passing out quickly. While it may sound too good to be true, it really can work. But only if you practice, as it may
take six weeks to master.
The overall method includes classic sleep advice such deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization — as well as trying to go to bed at the same time each night. "It's no wonder the army would use these techniques," Chris Brantner, sleep expert and founder of
SleepZoo, tells Bustle. "They're backed by good science. And they structure them in a way that sets a rigid protocol, which makes them easier to follow."
That means a person in the military can fall asleep quickly, and
get the rest they need. But it's also a great trick for civilians. "The average person would find these techniques [helpful]," Brantner says. "I advise trying these out as a part of improving your sleep hygiene."
Here, sleep experts explain why these tips are so effective, they're even used by the military.
Stick To A Specific Bedtime
Folks in the military can fall asleep quickly, thanks to their strict bedtimes. "[This trick] focuses on doing the same thing every night before bed," Brantner says.
It works over time by turning sleep into something your body expects at the same time each night. "Sleep experts recommend
setting a bedtime routine and practicing it repeatedly because it gets your mind and body used to it," Brantner says. "Eventually, when you begin your routine, you become trained and your mind and body will be signaled that it's time to get ready to go to sleep."
Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation
One of the best tricks for falling asleep fast is
progressive muscle relaxation.
"Progressive muscle relaxation has shown to lower blood pressure, tension, and anxiety," Brantner says. "And it's no wonder that this can help you sleep. After all, anxiety is one of the most common causes of insomnia."
To do it, start at the top of your head and focus on relaxing each part of your body. "Focus on each part of your face and relaxing them," Leslie Fischer, sleep expert and founder of
Sustainable Slumber, tells Bustle. "Don’t forget your tongue!"
Then move down to your upper body. "Drop your shoulders, followed by your arms, and do this exercise with each arm separately."
Then your lower body, Fischer says, "starting with your chest, then your legs, starting from the thighs, and then down." You'll likely be asleep before you ever reach your toes.
If stress is overwhelming your brain, it can help to slow down and
change what you're focusing on. "Visualization is a technique that helps quiet the mind," Brantner says. "Visualization is particularly good for prepping for bedtime because it forces the mind to focus on calming thoughts. This helps you learn to control your racing mind, which typically keeps people from being able to sleep at night."
Spend ten seconds clearing your mind, Fischer says, picture a relaxing setting, and allow yourself to drift off.
Imagine Yourself Lying In A Boat
One great visualization involves imagining yourself lying in a boat, rocking gently back and forth. This is visualization technique that can help distract you, so that you'll be relaxed enough to fall asleep.
So get comfortable in bed and start to imagine the feeling of the water moving beneath you, the beautiful lake, the starry sky above you, Fischer says. And you should be asleep in no time.
In order to get your body to fully relax, it can help to mimic the way you breathe when you're deeply asleep.
"Inhale for a count of four seconds, then exhale for a count of eight seconds," Doug Hale, sleep expert at
Brooklyn Bedding, tells Bustle. "Breathe in. Breathe Out. Repeat. Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock
While it might seem like you need to be in a warm room in order to sleep, a cool atmosphere is actually best.
"A colder sleep environment will also typically help you nod off quickly, since blood pressure and skin temperature both tend to drop as we drift off to sleep," Hale says.
"From what we’ve learned of the two-minute military sleep trick, it does have the potential to relax the mind and body as well as help lower blood pressure — a necessary mechanism for falling asleep.”
The last thing you need when you're trying to fall asleep is any form of distraction, especially if it has lights.
"Make sure your cell phone is checked at the door of your bedroom," Fischer says. "The blue light that emanates from your screen
inhibits the production of melatonin in your system, which is essential to falling asleep."
You may also want to
get a sleep mask, so that you can pass out no matter where you are, or how much light is around you.
These tricks work for folks who need to get rest while in stressful situations, but they can work on the average night, too. With practice, you should be able to
fall asleep quickly, whenever and wherever you need to.