You’ve probably heard of the military sleep method by now. If not, here’s the gist: it’s essentially an old sleep hack that’s been tried and tested by the US army who say it gets them to sleep in just two minutes. Yes, you read that right: two. minutes.
Nearly three quarters of adults in the UK (71%) do not get the recommended seven to nine hours’ sleep a night. So it’s no wonder the military sleep method has gone viral as a way to calm anxiety and stress and clear the way for a good night’s sleep. We’ve broken down everything you need to know below…
What is the military sleep method?
The military sleep method is a technique centred around sending you to sleep quickly. Some claim it can even help you nod off in as little as two minutes. It was created specifically for soldiers in the US military and is geared to work even in intense environments – like a literal battlefield.
The technique is explained in a 1981 book called Relax and Win: Championship Performance, and it explains the method was developed by army chiefs to address the issue of soldiers getting too tired or exhausted. The stakes in this situation are obviously very high. So, chances are, if the US army can use it in such high-stress environments, we have a good chance of getting it work in our flats and homes.
How to do the military sleep method?
It’s similar to a body scan, where you systematically relax and shut down your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
- First, relax your face – Start with your forehead, then your eyes, your cheeks and your jaw, while focusing on your breathing.
- Drop your shoulders as low as you can – Make sure you release any tension and keep your arms loose at your side including your hands and fingers. Imagine there’s a warm sensation travelling from your head all the way down to your fingertips. Move down one arm at a time, relaxing each section as you go and keeping your breathing slow and steady.
- Take a deep breath and relax your chest – Slowly inhale and exhale moving down to your stomach.
- Relax each leg in turn – Imagine a warm sensation working its way down your thighs, knees, legs, feet and all the way to your toes.
- Clear your mind of any stresses – Think of one of these scenarios: 1) You’re lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but clear blue sky above you. 2) You’re lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch black room
- Repeat these words in your mind – If you get distracted, repeat “don’t think” in your head for 10 seconds.
Apparently, after six solid weeks of practice this will work for 96% of people who try the technique.
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Does the military sleep method work?
It’s difficult to prove for certain as this would require studies that look specifically at the military sleep method, but anecdotally, many people have vouched for its effectiveness. And having done the rounds on TikTok, many enthusiastically recommend it.
One TikTok commenter said: “I’m a military brat and was taught this. I also had a veteran as a psychology teacher in college who taught this. It definitely works”, while another user said: “My doctor taught me this technique with slight variations when I had insomnia due to PTSD. Trust me it works 100% once you get it down.”
Twitter user @Jontafkasi even said it may have cured his four decades of insomnia. “Hmm, might be a bit early to get excited but after 40 odd years of insomnia, I got a half decent sleep last night.. I’ll be impressed (and a little annoyed) if it was that simple. Military method.”
He followed up explaining: “I never have trouble going to sleep but usually wake up in the early hours and that’s when I struggle. Military method. Starting from the top, relax your whole body slowly and carefully, then clear your mind for a while (this is the hard bit) , then think of a peaceful scene. “
He concluded: “Normally at that stage I would toss and turn for ages but this technique stopped all that and allowed me to get back to sleep quite quickly. It’s taken a few weeks of practice but touch wood, seems to be helping.”
Given it only takes two minutes each night, we’ll be trying this pronto.
Why is the military sleep method popular?
Sleep deprivation, or insufficient sleep is a problem for many of us. Research last year found that 14% (1 in 7) Brits, survive on under five hours of sleep a night which is considered dangerously low. And as well as affecting our concentration and mood, lack of sleep can lead to mental health problems, cardiac problems, dementia and diabetes, so it makes sense that we’re interested in methods and techniques that can help to improve our sleep quality and quantity.
Given the small amount of time the military sleep method takes, and the anecdotal success rate it boasts, it’s unsurprising that its become so popular.
When to see your GP for insomnia
Some sleep methods may not work for everyone. According to the NHS, you should see your GP if:
- changing your sleeping habits has not worked
- you have had trouble sleeping for months
- your insomnia is affecting your daily life in a way that makes it hard for you to cope.
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