If you have frequent trouble drifting off to dreamland, you’ve probably Googled all sorts of tricks for falling asleep. For people who still struggle to get some shut-eye, why not try this old military trick? As far as we know, not many other sleeping tips or tricks can boast a 96 percent success rate!
Sharon Ackman shared this method for falling asleep on Medium in July 2018, but it was originally published in a 1981 book called Relax and Win: Championship Performance. “The U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School developed a scientific method to fall asleep day or night, in any conditions, in under two minutes,” Ackman wrote. “After six weeks of practice, 96 percent of pilots could fall asleep in two minutes or less. Even after drinking coffee, with machine gunfire being played in the background.”
To fall asleep using this supposedly government-backed technique, first make yourself comfortable. The pilots in the Navy’s study were all seated during testing, but you can try this in your bed or on the couch. Next, focus on relaxing the muscles in your face. Close your eyes, breathe in slowly, and as your exhale, feel your face loosen up. Let your whole face go limp.
Now it’s time to focus on your upper body. Go section by section, breathing in deeply and slowly, relaxing your muscles as you exhale. Start at your shoulders and work your way down your arms. Continue down your legs to your thighs, calves, and feet; experience yourself sinking into the bed.
Once your entire body is relaxed, you’re ready for the hard part: Think about nothing for 10 seconds. If you’re having trouble emptying your mind, think of a static image — like a black room — or repeat the words “don’t think” over and over.
By this point, you should be fast asleep, imagining a beautiful world where you can eat as much as you want and never gain weight, and where the kids don’t need to be reminded to do their homework. Sweet dreams!