Getty: JGI/Tom Grill

This technique has apparently been used by the military, and it requires no special equipment or medication.

Zee Krstic
October 31, 2018

If you're among the 35 percent of adults who don't get enough sleep—meaning you get less than 7 hours per night, the amount that many professionals deem to be clinically "poor"—it may be because you're having trouble getting to sleep in the first place.

Perhaps you have tried using a bag of rice, or even changing your diet to help yourself sleep better. But if those haven't worked, you may want to try out this two-minute technique apparently developed by the U.S. Navy, to help fighter pilots get enough rest before missions.

According to a Medium post by Sharon Ackman, a writer who focuses on the military and veterans, the two-minute technique first appeared in print in the 1981 book Relax and Win: Championship Performance in Whatever You Do by Lloyd Bud Winter.

Winter penned the self-help book to aid athletes dealing with injuries and tension before competitions. But The Independent also reports that many members of the United States Army use the technique to "help them fall asleep when in situations that are less than peaceful, such as on battlefields."

According to Ackman, 96 percent of those who use the technique ended up falling asleep easier within six weeks of practice. Novelist Michael Grothaus tried the technique for Fast Company—he writes that it took around one week before he noticed a decrease in the amount of time he spent waiting to fall asleep.

Looking for natural solutions to restless sleep issues? Read on:

You can try it at home, and it doesn't require any special equipment or supplements. Ackman breaks down the five-step process broken down below:

  1. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your face, including your jaw and tongue, as well as the muscles around your eyes. Do not tense these areas.
  2. Relax and drop your shoulders as far down as they'll go, and then move onto your upper and lower arms, first on the left side and then on the right.
  3. Exhale, relaxing your chest, and then move onto relaxing the muscles in your legs, including the thighs and calfs.
  4. Spend at least 10 seconds trying to clear your mind before thinking about one of the following mental images.
  5. Picture yourself lying in a canoe on calm waters, peering at a clear blue sky; lying in a black velvet hammock surrounded by darkness; or, alternatively, repeat "don't think, don't think, don't think" to yourself repeatedly for increments of 10 seconds at a time.

Frankly, we feel like spending that energy focusing on falling asleep might just tire us out enough to drop off anyway. But if you're out of other options—and don't want to take medication—it may be worth practicing this technique before bed for a couple weeks and see if you notice any changes. Make sure you're not also doing these other 10 habits that can actually sabotage your sleep, according to our nutritionist.