Getting more sleep is important. According to one 2018 study, persons who sleep for five to six hours per night are 19% less productive than people who sleep for seven to eight hours per night, and people who sleep for fewer than five hours are approximately 30% less productive.
Consequently, most people are aware that they need more sleep. But what if you have trouble falling asleep? Consider using the Military Way.
According to Lloyd Bud Winter’s 2012 book Relax and Win: Championship Performance, the Navy Pre-Flight School devised a technique to help pilots fall asleep. Six weeks later, 96 percent of the pilots could fall asleep in two minutes or less while sitting in a chair, listening to a machine-gun fire recording, or drinking coffee. Here’s how it’s done:
Relax your whole face.
Shut your eyes for a moment. Slowly and deeply inhale. Then, gradually relax all of your facial muscles.
(If it helps, begin with the muscles in your forehead and work your way down.) Relax your jaw, cheeks, mouth, tongue, and everything else. Let go of everything, including your sight.
Reduce the size of your shoulders and hands.
Let any tension go. Relax your neck and traps; imagine sinking into your chair or bed. Then, beginning at the top of your right arm, relax your biceps, forearms, and hands. Reply on the opposite side. Remember to keep breathing gently and deeply.
Exhale and let your chest relax.
It should be simple, with your shoulders and arms relaxed.
Let your legs relax.
Begin with your right thigh and sink it into the chair or bed. Then repeat for your calf, ankle, and foot. Then repeat with your left leg.
Clear your mind now.
To be sure, it’s difficult not to think about anything. (I find myself thinking about not thinking.) If that describes you, try visualising something. Select something soothing. Consider yourself lying comfortably in the dark. But what if that doesn’t work?
For 10 seconds, repeat the words “don’t think.”
If nothing else, it should divert you from worrying about whatever it is that is keeping you awake. Remember that practise is the key.
The Military Way may not help you fall asleep quickly at first, but the more you apply it, the better you’ll learn to relax. And then let go. Whether we are “trying” to fall asleep faster or not, this is how we all fall asleep.