How to fall asleep in two minutes using the military sleep method

Struggle to get to fall asleep quickly? This method is tried and tested by soldiers

A minimalist bedroom with high windows, and a bed with white linens
(Image credit: Abbie Naber)

The military sleep method was doing the rounds on social media a few months back, and it gained loads of attraction for being a super simple sleep hack that can help you drift off in less than two minutes. Naturally, we wanted in. 

Before you worry, it has nothing to do with military personnel shouting in your ear to fall asleep, that may instead induce nightmares. It’s simply a meditative technique that helps your body relax and forget about any stresses of the day. 

Those that have tried the method say they fall asleep in two minutes, or sometimes quicker. It actually gets the name because it's a traditional sleep technique, tried and tested by the US army. 

So how does this seemingly miraculous method work, if at all? We asked sleep experts to break down this approach to see if it's a myth or can actually help you fall asleep fast

What is the military sleep method?

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(Image credit: Future/Mary Wadsworth)

Despite making a comeback on TikTok, the Military Sleep Method first came about back in 1981 in a book called Relax and Win: Championship Performance, by Lloyd Bud-Winter. In the book, the author explains that as sleep is so important for those in the army the technique was integrated into their routine to make sure they got their 8 hours a night and were fully alert while they trained and worked. 


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Dave Gibson, sleep therapist and founder of The Sleep Site, explains, 'The military sleep method was originally created by the United States Navy Pre-Flight School to help pilots fall asleep in 2 minutes or less. The main focus is to relax each body part in sequence from your face to your toes. Then, once your body is relaxed you clear your mind by thinking of a relaxing scene such as being in a boat on a lake. If this doesn’t work, there’s an additional part of the technique you can add on.'

'The technique is very similar to a system called Progressive Muscle Relaxation or PMR. This involves tensing your muscles on your in-breath,' adds Dave. 'Squeezing your muscles as you hold your breath and then relaxing your muscles as you breathe out. You’d aim to breathe out longer than you breathe in to help relax your nervous system and start from the feet up.'

Dave Gibson
Dave Gibson

Dave Gibson is a sleep expert and founder of The Sleep Site, a website that provides advice on how to get the best sleep possible. He has over 20 years in healthcare providing advice, advice, support, and intervention across a wide range of conditions to promote good sleep patterns and quality sleep.

How to do the military sleep method

Fancy trying it out yourself? Here’s a play-by-play on how to practice the method.

  1. Breathe: breathe in gently through your nose, right from the belly and start to breathe out from your mouth, keeping it going throughout.
  2. Relax your face: start with relaxing your face, let your jaw hang and release any tension in your lips, eyebrows and forehead.
  3. Start to relax your upper body: next concentrate on your upper body, allowing your back to mold to your mattress and your arms to relax, freeing any tension – wiggle out any other tension from your fingers. 
  4. Then relax each leg: let that relaxing sensation run down your legs and feel any tension disappear. 
  5. Clear your mind: try and empty your mind of any stress and thoughts and envision calming scenarios. 
  6. Keep breathing: let the breath move into your chest and begin to relax this the same way.

Dave Gibson adds that his preference isn’t to repeat ‘don’t think’ as a mantra, as he says he prefers to have a 'more positive vision and framing such as ‘I am letting go and gently slipping into sleep’. He believes that 'the brain relaxes more with a positive reward, rather than giving up a negative association.'

Does the military sleep method work?

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(Image credit: Future)

The sleeping method went viral last year on TikTok when a fitness expert posted a video on his social media account claiming the Military Sleep Method was the easiest way to fall asleep. 

Justin Agustin, who has nearly two million followers posted the video with instructions on how to follow the method and went on to conclude: 'You’re supposed to practice every night for six weeks. Apparently, 96 per cent of people who mastered this technique are actually able to fall asleep within two minutes of shutting their eyes.'

So, according to TikTok it does, but Dave Gibson does note that you shouldn’t get frustrated if the method takes you a little longer the first few times you try it, as it takes some practice and he adds 'I also like to tweak the technique by advising my clients to breathe out longer than breathing in during the Military Technique as it helps slow down the heart rate and relax the nervous system.'

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Having generally good sleep hygiene and having the best bedroom environment, the best mattress and the best bed sheets to give you the best chance at a good night's sleep are always going to help you drift off. But, while there is no clear-cut evidence that this method works for those who struggle to sleep it’s worth trying it out to see if it's for you. 

Sarah Finley

Sarah is a freelance journalist - she covers a variety of subjects, including sleep, health and fitness, beauty and travel. As a journalist, she has written thousands of profile pieces - interviewing CEOs, real-life case studies and celebrities. Sarah can normally be found trying out the latest fitness class, on a plane to an exotic destination or getting an early night - and of course, writing about them.