How to fall asleep quickly: this military hack could help you drift off in just two minutes

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Nicola Rachel Colyer
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Do you struggle to drift off in time for a good night’s sleep? This sleep hack reportedly from the US army could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

It’s no secret that we’re all a little bit obsessed with sleep. Learning more about the wonderful world of sleep – and how we can get more of it – has become a bit of a pastime for many of us. 

Our fascination runs so deep that we’ve even delved into the routines of women around the world, from hotel managers to an early morning radio presenter, to learn how they manage (or don’t) to get some quality shut-eye. 

We’ve tried bedtime yoga, sleep apps, calming podcasts and much much more, yet some of us are still not getting enough sleep. Whether it’s because of a Netflix habit, long hours at the office, doing some late night shopping or insomnia, getting our mind to switch off and allow us to bank a dreamy eight hours can be much easier said than done. 

So, when word of a new trick that could have us nodding off before you can say “pass the pillow spray” started circulating, we were all ears. According to, the latest tip is a nugget of long-forgotten military wisdom that was developed by the US Army to ensure that its pilots were able to get enough rest, even in the toughest of conditions.

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It was shared in a 1981 publication titled Relax and Win: Championship Performance by author Lloyd Bud Winter and says it could have you asleep within 120 seconds. What’s more, it reportedly has a 96% success rate after six weeks of practice.

If you fancy joining the ranks and giving it a whirl, we’ve broken down the technique below:

Start by closing your eyes and taking some deep, slow breaths before relaxing all of the muscles in your face, including your tongue, jaw, and the muscles around your eyes. There should be no creases or lines and your eyes should be closed but limp (which you do by letting them fall deep into their socket).

A woman sleeping
Want to fall asleep quickly? This US army hack could be the answer.

Then, drop your shoulders as low as they’ll go, as if they are floating down your body. Next, starting with your dominant arm, relax your upper arm, then your lower arm and hands before repeating on the other side. If you struggle to relax your muscles, try tensing first before relaxing.

Take a deep breath and as you breathe out, relax your chest. Your upper body should feel as though it is sinking beneath you.

Relax your legs by starting with your thighs and working your way down your calves to your feet, letting them sink beneath you like a dead weight.

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Once your body is fully relaxed, the final step is to clear your mind for 10 seconds. Winter recommends using visualisation to help you do this, either by imagining that you are lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but blue sky above you or that you are snuggled in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room.

And if that doesn’t work, you can say “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” in your mind over and over for 10 seconds and that should help.

Sweet dreams.

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This piece was originally published in April 2018

Images: Getty