Falling asleep is a struggle for many people, but there are some tricks to help you fall asleep instantly.
These methods require time and repetition to master and usually will not work immediately, but with practice, many people will be able to fall asleep quickly.
What Is the Military Method for Sleep?
The Military method comes from a 1981 book called, Relax and Win: Championship Performance, and writer Sharon Ackman reported on it. Ackman wrote that the US Navy Pre-Flight School developed a method to fall asleep in any conditions, in under two minutes.
- The method:
- Get into a comfortable position
- Relax your muscles in the following order:
- Relax all the muscles in your face
- Next, drop your shoulders and relax your arms
- Exhale and relax your chest, then relax your legs
- After that, for 10 seconds, clear your mind
- Imagine you’re lying in a pitch-black room or on a comfortable couch
- If you are having difficulty clearing your mind, repeat the words, “don’t think,” over and over
- If done properly, you should fall asleep within two minutes
- This method takes practice
- After 6 weeks of practice, 96% of pilots could fall asleep in two minutes or less
What is the 4-7-8 Breathing Method for Sleep?
The “4-7-8” breathing method is a method developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and based on yogic breathing called pranayama to help you relax and fall asleep. By practicing this method, you may even be able to fall asleep within a few minutes.
- The method:
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth
- Exhale completely through the mouth and make a whoosh sound
- Close the mouth and inhale through the nose while counting to four in your mind
- Hold your breath and mentally count to seven
- Exhale completely through an open mouth, making a whoosh sound and mentally counting to eight
- Repeat at least three more times
- The ratio of 4:7:8 is important so if you have trouble holding your breath you can speed up the exercise but maintain the 4:7:8 ratio
- Dr. Weil recommends practicing this method at least twice daily
- Start with no more than four breaths for the first month, and work up to eight breaths after that
- Some lightheadedness is normal at the start
What Is the Dodow Device?
The Dodow is a device that can help you relax and clear your mind to help you fall asleep faster.
- It’s shaped like a small disk, and when you tap the top it activates a slowly pulsing blue light that projects onto the ceiling to help you pace your breath
- Users focus on the light and match their breath to it
- It comes with a 20-minute cycle and an 8-minute cycle
- After practice at the 20-minute cycle, users can switch to the 8-inute cycle
- Self-regulation of breathing has been shown in studies to help with insomnia
How Can Sleep Hygiene Help Me Sleep Better?
In addition to the “instant” methods to help you fall asleep, other ways to help you fall asleep faster include:
- Have a consistent sleep routine
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends
- Make your bedroom a calm sanctuary
- Dim lighting
- Scented oil diffusers
- Soft music
- Calm yourself before bedtime
- Practice breathing exercises
- Use guided imagery
- Take a hot bath or shower
- Do relaxing yoga
- Listen to relaxing music
- Listen to Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)
- Avoid things that will keep you awake, such as caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid exercise before bed
- Don’t watch TV or read in bed the bed and bedroom is only associated with sleep
- If you are awake more than 10 minutes after getting into bed, get out of bed and sit in a chair and do something boring such as puzzles or knitting (something that does not involve a screen) until you are sleepy
- Don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep right away
- Avoid daytime napping
- Use a weighted blanket
- Keep the room cool: 65°F/18.3°C is considered ideal
- Use blackout curtains or sleep masks to reduce light
- Wear ear plugs or use white noise to block outside noises
- Remove the alarm clock
- Wear socks to warm your feet
- Write down stressful thoughts before going to bed so you don’t think about them
- Try night time snacks that increase serotonin to help you sleep, such as
- Warm milk
- Nut butter on toast
- Whole grain cereal with milk (avoid sugary cereals)
- Fruit smoothie
- Cottage cheese
- Sleep in comfortable loose-fitting pajamas or sleep naked to help regulate body temperature
- Don’t go to bed until you feel sleepy
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