FORGET ABOUT SHEEP COUNTING AND RELAXING SOUNDS: With this military technique you will fall asleep in just two minutes
The technique was used by American fighter pilots in World War II so that they would not make wrong decisions due to insomnia with possible fatal consequences.
For most of us, insomnia is not something our lives depend on, but if we have slept poorly, chances are we will be in a bad mood, sleepy, and make some reckless decisions during the day.
However, in some professions, such as the military, insomnia can have fatal consequences.
The U.S. military concluded during World War II that fighter pilots make bad decisions when they don’t sleep well. Mistakes used to result in great losses and casualties, so it became a priority to find a way to rest quickly and efficiently.
The military has hired Navy Colonel Bud Winter to develop and test a scientifically designed method of “learning” sleep, Business Insider writes.
Winter had previously been a successful sports coach in colleges and collaborated with a psychology professor to devise techniques that helped athletes relax and cope better under pressure.
The trick Winter devised worked on the pilots. After just six weeks of exercise, as many as 96 percent of them were able to fall asleep within 120 seconds, even from distractions like shooting, drinking coffee before bed, and some were able to fall asleep even in a sitting position.
If it worked on the pilots, then there is no reason that the technique cannot be applied to us, no matter how stressed we were. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Sit comfortably
If you are in bed, this will not be a problem. But if you are outside, settle into the most comfortable position. For example, if you are in a car, lower the seat, and if you are in the office, find the most comfortable chair.
2. Relax your face
This is a key part of the trick. We have 43 muscles on our face and through them the body ‘understands’ if we are under stress. When you completely relax your face, you are sending a physiological sign to your body that everything is fine and that it is safe to sleep.
Close your eyes and relax your whole face – forehead, tongue, cheeks and jaw. When you do this, you will notice that your breathing naturally slows down and deepens. Then relax your eyes that have six muscles.
3. Release tension starting from the shoulders
Tighten your shoulders and then relax them as best you can, as if they are falling towards your feet. Relax the muscles of the back of the neck. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, releasing the remaining tension. Most people retain tension in their shoulders, neck and jaw.
Get on your hands. Feel them getting harder and relax, starting with your dominant side (right if you’re right-handed, left if you’re left-handed). Start with the biceps and feel it relax. If it does not relax, tighten it as hard as possible and relax.
Finally, relax your legs. Feel your right quadriceps relax and become heavier. Then move to the lower leg, ankle and foot and repeat the whole process with the other leg.
4. Cleanse the mind for 10 seconds
When you have completely relaxed your body, switch to the mind. Avoid thoughts that involve any form of movement (like thinking about turning off lights, throwing trash, etc.). These thoughts stimulate unconscious movements, or micro-contractions in certain muscles.
In his book ‘Relax and Win: Performance Championship’, Winter shared some tips on thoughts that should last 10 seconds.
Imagine it is a warm spring day and lie at the bottom of a canoe on a calm lake. You are looking at the blue sky with slow, floating clouds. Don’t let other thoughts come to your mind. Concentrate on that image and enjoy it for 10 seconds.
After that, imagine that you are in a large, black, velvety hammock, and wherever you look around you see black. Also hold this image for 10 seconds.
The third trick is to say the words, “Don’t think… Don’t think… Don’t think…” Repeat this and prevent other thoughts for at least 10 seconds.
And that is it. Once you have completely relaxed your body and mind you have another 10 seconds when you should fall asleep. Once you master the technique, you will be able to fall asleep or take a nap anywhere, which will improve your quality of life.