For many people, creating a restful sleep environment can be a tall order. From trying to get one last glimpse at their social feeds to struggling to quiet their mind, drifting off peacefully to sleep can be anything but an easy task. And considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep, this can be a serious problem. One option that’s making the rounds on social media that might help you is the military sleep method.
This concept is going viral on social media with influencers swearing that after employing it, they fall asleep in as little as two minutes. This is an alluring thought, especially if you wake up exhausted and ready to hit snooze every morning. But before you hop on this trend, learn more about what the military sleep method is, how it’s beneficial, and if it’s right for you.
What Is the Military Sleep Method?
Don’t get freaked out just because this method is named after the military. The concept behind the military sleep method actually dovetails with most standard recommendations for creating a relaxing bedroom environment and bedtime routine that’s more conducive to falling asleep.
Simply put, the military sleep method prioritizes sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, removing all distractions from your sleep space, and engaging in whole-body meditation techniques right before bedtime. More specifically, the process involves:
- Closing your eyes
- Initiating deep breathing with your focus on this breathwork
- Beginning by relaxing your face ensuring that there’s no tension in your facial muscles
- Continuing down your body, to remove tension from common areas like the shoulders, glutes, thighs, and calf muscles
- Clearing your mind of all distractions
- Reinforcing this meditative goal by either counting your breathwork or visualizing a calming image
Anecdotally, people claim that with consistent use, this technique can help you fall asleep in as little as two minutes. For best results, you’ll need to use this method for at least six weeks.
Can the Military Sleep Method Promote Better Sleep?
Officially, few if any studies have been conducted on whether the military sleep method is a guaranteed pathway to dreamland bliss. However, research shows that active service members have been using this technique since at least World War II with success. The Office of the Army Surgeon General recommends that soldiers sleep at least seven hours a day. But the average active duty soldier is usually clocking between four to six hours of sleep regularly. So, it’s safe to say that anything that helps a soldier fall asleep faster is going to translate to at least achieving more sleep.
Translating this to civilians, the military sleep method isn’t a cure-all if you struggle with sleep disorders like insomnia or routinely wake up throughout the night. But it can help you learn how to retrain your sleep routine by shifting your thoughts, winding down from a stressful day, and laying the foundation for falling asleep faster.
The Military Sleep Method and Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene doesn’t refer to your bodily cleanliness, although a small case study review published in 2019 found that while research is limited, yes, bathing before bed does support better sleep. Sleep hygiene includes key goals such as:
- Sticking to a regular sleep schedule
- Avoiding blue light from screens before bedtime
- Reducing mentally intense activities before bedtime
- Setting a comfortable room temperature
- Having a comfortable mattress and bedding
- Refocusing your mind away from stressful thoughts
- Utilizing tools like white noise machines if you can’t sleep in silence
- Creating a dark environment that makes it easier for you to fall asleep
So, how does the military sleep method integrate with the above? It requires that you set a consistent sleep schedule and that you leverage meditation techniques to help calm your mind, allowing your body to fully relax. This in turn promotes falling asleep faster.
Are There Any Drawbacks To the Military Sleep Method?
On the whole, the military sleep method is considered a fairly straightforward relaxation technique that should help virtually anyone fall asleep faster. But as with anything in life, it might not be a solution for everyone.
Dr. Ketan Palmer, a forensic psychologist and mental health expert with ClinicSpots shares that the method might not be as beneficial for people with mental health conditions. In particular, it needs to be tailored to an individual’s needs because when used incorrectly it can leave you feeling fatigued and impact performance during the day. “Consider the amount of sleep your body needs based on age and lifestyle.” Additionally, he cautions that people practicing this method should “monitor how you feel after…a few weeks, as those with pre-existing mental health conditions may have difficulty adjusting to it.”
Meanwhile, Lauri Leadley CCSH, RPSGT, and the Founder and President of the Valley Sleep Center also shares that this technique might not be ideal for people that work irregular hours. If you routinely work varying shifts, trying to form “the military sleep method ‘habit’ could be difficult and inconsistency disrupts the pattern.”
Should You Use the Military Sleep Method?
Ultimately, before you start incorporating new health-based routines into your life, it’s always a good idea to talk with a physician first. Especially if you struggle with insomnia or other sleep disorders, trying to start a structured routine like the military sleep method might be challenging. However, a bedtime routine that helps you to destress, relax your mind, and fall asleep faster is always a good idea.
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