How To Fall Asleep In 10, 60, Or 120 Seconds

How To Fall Asleep In 10, 60, Or 120 Seconds

If you lay awake at night struggling to fall asleep, trust us when we tell you that you are not alone. In fact, one in three people in the United States experience sleep deprivation. While the recommended number of hours for sleep depends on your age, most adults should sleep seven to eight hours per night. A lack of sleep can lead to a series of psychological and physiological effects, such as: 

  • Decreased concentration, performance, and memory
  • Increased risk of anxiety and depression
  • Constant fatigue, irritability, or restlessness
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity

The act of trying too hard to fall asleep can induce anxiety, as the inability to fall asleep makes your mind race. If you cannot calm the mind, it will be very difficult for you to fall asleep, because a sleepless mind results in no sleep. You may try to establish better sleep hygiene, bedroom environment, and improve what you do during the day. If all of those changes don’t help you fall asleep, the following anecdotal methods may help you turn the lights off. 

The 10-Second Method

Unless you have a magic wand, falling asleep in 10 seconds or less is nearly impossible. Practice makes perfect, so you may be able to achieve this goal soon enough. The 10-second method, or military method, was recently brought back into mainstream attention. During World War II, Lloyd Bud Winter developed a relaxation technique that helped U.S. Navy preflight school airmen fall asleep in 120 seconds. 

According to historical accounts, it took pilots six weeks of practice, but there was a supposed 96% success rate, even after drinking coffee and being around firing guns. This sounds too good to be true, and lack of scientific research makes people think exactly that. The full method takes 120 seconds to complete, but the last 10 seconds help you doze off. To do the method:

  • Relax all the muscles in your face, even inside the mouth. 
  • Drop your shoulders to release tension and allow your arms to rest by your sides. 
  • Exhale fully to relax your chest, and then relax your legs, thighs, and calves.
  • Clear your mind for 10 seconds by picturing a relaxing scene. 
  • If that doesn’t work, try saying, “don’t think,” repeatedly for 10 seconds. Within those 10 seconds, you should fall asleep.

The 60-Second Method

According to one article, slow breathing, relaxation methods, and better sleep hygiene may be more useful for insomnia than pharmacological methods. The following two methods may help you quiet the mind to help you go to sleep within a minute. If you are just starting this, it may take a couple minutes to work. 

4-7-8 Breathing

Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing method is based on pranayama exercises. The more you practice this method, the more effective it becomes. If you have a respiratory condition, consider speaking with a doctor before experimenting with this method, as it may aggravate symptoms. The method is executed as follows:

  • Let your lips part slightly, just far open enough so that you can make a “whoosh” sound as you exhale out of your mouth. 
  • Close your lips and inhale quietly through your nose for four seconds. 
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale (with the “whoosh”) for a full eight seconds. 
  • Your next inhale begins a new cycle. Repeat this cycle four times, but allow your body to sleep if you feel the onset of relaxation. 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Also known as PMR or deep muscle relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation may help you drift off to sleep. Essentially, this practice involves tensing your muscles and then fully relaxing them. Alternating between tensing and relaxing may help promote tranquility and even relieve insomnia. Ideally, practice this method as you exhale during the 4-7-8 method. 

  • Raise your eyebrows as high as you can for five seconds to tighten your forehead muscles. Relax those muscles and feel the tension drop. 
  • Wait 10 seconds before smiling widely to tense your cheeks. Hold for five seconds and relax. 
  • Pause 10 seconds and then tilt your head back gently to look up at the ceiling. Hold this position for five seconds and then relax as your neck sinks into the pillow. 
  • Pause another 10 seconds, and then continue moving down the rest of your body, tightening everything from your triceps and chest to your thighs and feet. 
  • Allow yourself to fall asleep, even if you don’t finish tensing and relaxing your feet. 

The 120-Second Method

If the previous methods don’t do the trick, consider this simple one. Just tell yourself to stay awake, because trying to fall asleep, especially if you have insomnia, can increase anxiety. A study from 2021 found the paradoxical intention (PI) may reduce performance anxiety. By doing so, you can increase the perception of feeling well-rested after sleep. PI is a technique that requires you to intentionally stay awake in bed. That can help you overcome the fear and conscious effort of falling asleep. This method can be more effective than traditional breathing practices for some, but research is quite limited.

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