We all have our tips and tricks for falling asleep or sleeping more deeply, but have you ever heard of the so-called military method? This sleep technique gained a fanbase after being featured in books, on YouTube, and, most recently, on TikTok, where user Justin Agustin recently posted a video about how effective the method is. So, what exactly is the military method of falling asleep, and does it really work?
The military method was reportedly developed by the US Navy during World War II, when fighter pilots started making avoidable mistakes due to lack of sleep. The issue was that they were stressed and couldn't relax enough to fall asleep, according to writer Sharon Ackman, who first reported on this sleep technique.
To address this need, the Navy developed a method that allegedly helped 96 percent of pilots fall asleep in two minutes or less, even with loud distractions and caffeine in their systems. Though the studies aren't publicly available, the method itself was featured in Relax and Win: Championship Performance, a 1981 book by Lloyd Bud Winter, and has been spreading far and wide ever since.
How to Use the Military Method to Fall Asleep
The military method has a few steps, but the overall idea is to relax your body inch by inch, starting at your head and working your way down to your toes. Some meditation techniques, like the body scan, use a similar approach to encourage relaxation. Here's how to use the military method.
- Relax the muscles in your face. Your face is probably holding way more tension than you realize. Close your eyes, breathe slowly, and relax your forehead, jaw, mouth, eyelids, and tongue.
- Loosen your upper body. Now move down to your neck and shoulders, letting all the muscles relax. "Make sure your shoulders are not tensed up," Agustin says in the TikTok. "Drop them as low as you can." Let your arms go limp, starting at your biceps and working all the way down to your fingers.
- Exhale slowly. "Now take a deep breath and slowly exhale, relaxing your chest, your stomach," Agustin says.
- Relax your lower body. Continue down your body, now focusing on releasing any tension in your thighs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet. Imagine your whole body is getting heavier and sinking into your bed or chair.
- Clear your mind. Try visualizing yourself lying on a comfortable couch in a dark room, as Ackman recommends, or envision yourself lying in a canoe on a calm lake with clear, blue sky above you, like Agustin suggests. If your mind is still racing, slowly repeat to yourself, "Don't think. Don't think. Don't think."
And that's it! This method is supposed to help you fall asleep within two minutes, but don't worry if it doesn't work on you right away. Keep trying for a few weeks and see what effect it has on your sleep — if you dip into the TikTok comments, you'll see that this method really works for many people. "I'm a military brat and was taught this," one commenter said. "I also had a veteran as a psychology teacher in college who taught this. [I]t definitely works." Those who haven't tried it, meanwhile, are promising to give it a shot. "I'm trying it tonight," another commenter wrote.
If you struggle with falling asleep, try this military-approved sleep method for yourself and see if it works!