What is the Military Sleep Method?

4 min read

Last Modified 9 June 2023 First Added 8 November 2022

By Ellen Conning

Picture this: it’s late at night, and you’re struggling to sleep. Having tossed and turned for a few hours, you groggily grab your phone and look up sleep tips and tricks — one technique that sticks out from the crowd… the military sleep method.

The US military developed the method to help deal with tired soldiers. With the stakes at play in their field of work, a solution was needed, so the military sleep method came to be. Most people learned about it from a viral Tiktok, but the technique often quoted comes from a 1981 book called Relax and Win: Championship Performance.

But what is the military sleep method, and is it as good as the claims say? Let’s dig into it together.

What is the military sleep method?

The method to fall asleep fast goes as follows:

  1. Relax your face completely – Close your eyes and breathe slowly while relaxing your facial muscles. It’s good to start with your forehead and work downwards.
  2. Drop your shoulder tension and relax your hands – Once your face is relaxed, work your way down with your neck and shoulders, and go down one arm at a time. Keep your breathing slow and steady throughout.
  3. Exhale and let your chest relax – Similar to the steps before but with your chest this time. Work slowly, and get used to how this feels.
  4. Relax your legs one by one – Start with the right thigh, and then the calf, ankle and foot. Imagining yourself sinking into your chair or bed helps here. Repeat with your left side after.
  5. Clear your mind – There are a few options to try here. Holding a relaxing image in mind can help, as can repeating “don’t think” for ten seconds.

Some online videos claim this technique will put you to sleep in just two minutes after starting it. And for this reason, the military sleep method has become a part of many people’s calming nightly routine. With our 2022 sleep survey finding an increase of 9.4% in people with disturbed sleep and a 67% decrease in people waking up feeling refreshed since 2016, it’s no wonder a two-minute quick method has become so widespread.

Two sodiers sleeping on the ground with a dog between them

Why is this method popular?

As time passes, more and more people worry about how much they sleep. It’s understandable – our sleep survey also revealed that 18% of people spend between 0 to 4 hours asleep, and only 43% get between 5 and 6 hours a night. Chronic insomnia and exhaustion are becoming more commonplace, or at the very least are talked about more often, with people being open about their bedtime hygiene and online routines.

Everyone has struggled with sleeping before a big event, and those with chronic sleep disorders often feel the pinch of a bad night’s rest more often than not. We’ve also seen that the pandemic greatly affected people’s sleep around the world, with many healthcare workers experiencing a significant impact on their quality of sleep alongside everyone else.

This means that a method that only takes two minutes to try is a small investment for a big potential payoff. Yes, even if it takes six weeks of practice to work fully, six weeks’ worth of two minutes isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.

Does the military sleep method work?

When it comes to calming techniques for sleep, there’s never a straightforward yes or no answer. Several studies have stated that calibrating rest should be carefully considered during a military career, and if there was ever a line of work where a quick sleep trick would be handy, it would be in this one. Having said that, no clear-cut studies specifically around this method are publicly available.

There is, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence that shows this method works. According to the US military, it works on 96% of individuals who give it a try, and there are a lot of comments on the original TikTok that claim success with it. Some journalists have also reported sound sleep after giving it a try.

Ultimately, it’s worth a try if you think it sounds interesting. Two minutes of your life isn’t much to lose compared to the sleepless nights that can sometimes plague us, after all.

Discover more sleep tips to enhance your slumber

The military sleep technique may not work for everyone but don’t worry. There are plenty more methods you can try. Next time you find yourself tossing and turning, practice the Egyptian sleep method or one of our 15 sleep relaxation techniques.

If you are struggling with sleep problems, make sure you seek professional help. The NHS advises, “If poor sleep is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, call NHS 111 or talk to your GP”.

Calculate your optimal night's sleep here

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