How to use the Military Sleep Method to fall asleep faster at night

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Can't get to sleep? The Military Sleep Method might sound like a hardcore way of catching some shut-eye, but despite the tough-sounding name it's actually a reliable, gentle and quick way to get to sleep within two or three minutes. 

It's one of those weird old tricks that the internet so loves, but this one definitely works; you don't need to be a member of the armed forces to use it, and not only can it help you get to sleep, it's also a great way of getting back to sleep if you tend to wake frequently in the night.

The Military Sleep Method takes regular practice to get right, however, which means that you may give up on it after a few nights and write it off as worthless. Don't do that; instead read on to find out everything you need to know about this viral sleep technique, and how it can help you get to sleep faster and wake up in the morning feeling a lot more rested.

If you suffer from insomnia, or if you're just one of those people who takes an age to get to sleep at night, the Military Sleep Method is an easy-to-learn technique that can help. Before we start, a quick note on your sleep setup – it's worth investing in the best mattress you can afford, to give yourself the best chance of any sleep technique helping. 

As we've mentioned, it takes regular practice to the Military Sleep Method nailed – it could be up to six weeks until you've mastered the technique. However once you have it down, it can be the best way to help you get to sleep quickly. All it involves is breathing, visualization and a little gentle movement of your fingers and toes.

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How to use the Military Sleep Method 

This military sleep technique is a straightforward way to get to sleep quickly and involves nothing more than relaxing, practicing your breathing and doing some gentle movement. Here’s how to use the Military Sleep Method to fall asleep fast:

Find a comfortable position where you want to fall asleep and close your eyes.

Breathe out slowly while focusing on releasing any tension in your body, while keeping your breathing steady and relaxing the muscles in your face.

Relax your shoulders, letting them drop. Your arms and hands should also feel loose and relaxed by your body.

Continue to inhale and exhale steadily, letting the muscles in the legs and feet relax. Try to focus on letting go of any tension.

Gently flex your feet and toes, imaging a warm feeling flowing from head to toe.

Now is the time to start visualizing in order to empty your mind of restless thoughts. Do this by either imagining you are on your back lying on a canoe that is floating on a calm lake, with a clear blue sky above you. Or imagine you're lying on a black velvet hammock in a dark room.

If thoughts start to crowd in, simply repeat the words ‘Don’t think’, or indeed any short, meaningless phrase, for ten seconds in order to clear your mind. TikTok influencer and fitness expert Justin Agustin tried the Military Sleep Method for himself. Watch the video (below) to find out how he got on. 


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Can it really help you fall asleep in two minutes?

The Military Sleep Method is a proven way for most people to relax their bodies and minds enough to fall asleep fast, and while it may not work for everyone – some might find it takes longer than expected to fall asleep – most report that at the very least, it leaves them feeling more relaxed.

As with other relaxation techniques, much of its success comes down to regular practice, and training your body and mind to recognize the technique as a signal for sleepy time. You won't see results overnight, but within a week or two you should be drifting off faster. Even if you're one of the people who gets no effect from the Military Sleep Technique, it should still leave you feeling more relaxed than when you started.

If nothing else, it will still put you in the mood for sleep, and send the signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down – an essential part of a good bedtime routine. To track your sleep and see how much better you’ll be sleeping once this method becomes fully effective, consider investing in one of the best sleep trackers too.

Who created the Military Sleep Method?

The Military Sleep Method is an old technique used by US soldiers to help them fall asleep within minutes – crucial for when they needed to get rest whenever they could in order to stay focused in combat. 

In his 1981 book, Relax and Win: Championship Performance, author and sprint coach Bud Winter detailed the ‘The Military Method’ as a way for anyone to fall asleep quickly in order to be at their best during the day. 

The sleep technique became popular again when fitness influencer Justin Agustin shared it on TikTok. It worked for many of his followers, while most reported that they felt more relaxed and less stressed or anxious when going to sleep. We have our doubts about some TikTok sleep hacks (bed rotting and mouth taping, anyone?), but this is one with real potential for results.

A man wakes up happy after a great night's sleep

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How to prioritize better sleep at night

If you do have trouble getting to sleep or suffer with insomnia, there are plenty of tricks that can help you get better sleep. This includes cutting down on caffeine a few hours before bedtime. The length of time will vary for different people, but most people find lunchtime works as a cut-off point for the last coffee of the day.

Other tips include cutting down on screen-time for up to two hours before bedtime, as well as having a bath or warm shower to help prep the body for sleep. This ties in with making sure the bedroom is the right temperature, and ideally, you should go to sleep in a room that is no warmer than 64.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius. The 10-3-2-1-0 sleep method offers some tips on how to structure your routine for better sleep.

Light stretching or meditation before you get into bed is also recommended, and can also help with the Military Sleep Method once you're beneath the covers.

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Claire Davies
Sleep Editor, Certified Sleep Science Coach

Claire is a Sleep Editor and Certified Sleep Science Coach who covers all things related to slumber, and is the go-to person for getting great product recommendations for better sleep. As an expert mattress reviewer, Claire has tested memory foam and hybrid mattresses from a range of top-rated brands, and has extensive experience of testing bedding too. Claire regularly speaks to certified sleep specialists, such as chartered psychologists and doctors of sleep medicine, to stay on top of the research and techniques that can help you enjoy better quality sleep, and she speaks with industry specialists about the latest mattress trends and new releases. Before delving into the world of sleep, Claire was Health & Wellness Editor at Top Ten Reviews, and before that a Senior Content Editor at T3. Having suffered with insomnia for years, Claire knows how much of a difference a good night's sleep can make and is passionate about helping others to sleep better too.