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May 16, 2024 8 min read

The ability to fall asleep quickly has become increasingly challenging in our fast-paced, technology-driven lives. The constant exposure to blue light, the pressures of daily responsibilities, and the stress of maintaining a healthy work-life balance can significantly impair our sleep quality.

Finding effective strategies to drift off rapidly is crucial for those who suffer from sleep deprivation or have trouble falling asleep. One such method, known as the "military method," promises to help you fall asleep in 10 seconds. This article explores not just this technique but also delves into the science of sleep and practical steps to prepare your body and mind for a restful night.

A woman curled up in bed, comfortably asleep under a soft blue blanket, benefiting from the military method for rapid sleep onset in a restful, plant-accented bedroom.


Understanding Sleep and Its Mechanisms

Sleep is a complex biological process that plays a vital role in our well-being and health. During sleep, our body undergoes several cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) and deep sleep, which are crucial for cognitive functions and physical health.

Deep sleep, or slow wave sleep, is particularly important for memory consolidation, muscle recovery, and regulating growth and stress hormones. On the other hand, REM sleep is essential for processing emotions and consolidating memories.

Disruptions in these sleep cycles, often caused by factors like sleep apnea or high blood pressure, can lead to poor sleep quality and chronic health issues, including heart disease and mood disorders.1

Preparing Your Body and Mind for Sleep

Creating a consistent bedtime routine is essential for signaling to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. This sleep routine can include a variety of relaxation techniques, such as taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or practicing diaphragmatic breathing to promote relaxation.

Additionally, maintaining a sleep environment free from distractions, reducing blue light exposure in the hours leading to bedtime, and wearing blue light glasses can help suppress melatonin production, making it easier to fall asleep fast.

Engaging in progressive muscle relaxation can also aid in releasing tension from all the muscles in your body, ensuring you are fully relaxed and ready to sleep.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

An adult rests in a cozy armchair, hands behind the head in relaxation, reflecting a pre-sleep routine that aids in quick and peaceful sleep as part of the military method.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, is a simple yet profoundly effective breathing method to help you fall asleep quickly. Rooted in ancient yoga practices, this technique serves as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system, reducing stress and preparing the body for sleep. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the 4-7-8 breathing technique:2

  1. Find a Comfortable Position: Before you begin, make sure you are in a comfortable seated or lying position. Relax your shoulders, and place the tip of your tongue against the back of your upper front teeth. This will help you make the correct whooshing sound when you exhale.

  2. Exhale Completely: Start by exhaling completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound. This initial step helps to empty the lungs and prepares them for the cycle of breaths.

  3. Inhale Quietly Through the Nose: Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Try to fill your lungs fully and deeply without straining.

  4. Hold Your Breath: Hold your breath for a count of seven. If this is too difficult, start with a shorter time and gradually work your way up as you practice the technique more.

  5. Exhale With Sound: Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a whooshing sound for a count of eight. This helps to release tension and signals relaxation throughout your body.

  6. Repeat the Cycle: Repeat this breathing cycle at least four times or until you feel yourself slipping into a more relaxed state. You may increase the number of repetitions as you get accustomed to the exercise.

This technique can be a valuable part of your sleep hygiene, especially if you find yourself struggling with sleep latency or disturbed sleep.

The Military Method

A peaceful sleeper in a serene bedroom setting, illustrating the successful outcome of applying the military method to overcome sleep deprivation and achieve restorative rest.

The Military Method is a sleep technique developed for fighter pilots to help them fall asleep in two minutes or less, even under stressful conditions or in uncomfortable environments. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to perform this method:

  1. Relax Your Facial Muscles: Begin by focusing on your face. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Release all tension in your forehead, jaw, and around your eyes. Imagine your face feeling heavy and sinking into the pillow.

  2. Release Tension in Your Shoulders and Arms: Drop your shoulders as low as possible to release tension. Let your hands drop to the side of your body. Focus on your upper arms, then your lower arms, and finally, your hands. If it helps, tense them first and then let them relax completely.

  3. Relax Your Chest and Legs: Take another deep breath and as you exhale, let your chest relax. Feel the weight of your body sinking deeper into the bed. Relax your thighs, knees, calves, and feet. Visualize all the stress flowing out of your legs and feet, draining away.

  4. Clear Your Mind for 10 Seconds: After relaxing your body, it’s time to clear your mind. Imagine a relaxing scene such as lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but a clear blue sky above you, or say, "Don't think, don't think, don't think" to yourself over and over for about 10 seconds. The goal is to keep your mind free of any stresses or thoughts that might keep you awake.

  5. Deep Breathing: Take slow, deep breaths and focus solely on your breathing. This helps maintain the relaxed state of both mind and body. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, creating a rhythmic pattern that promotes relaxation.3

  6. Hold the Relaxation: Try to remain in this deeply relaxed state for a few moments. Trust the process, and don't rush. Allow the relaxation to engulf your entire body, and you should fall asleep within a minute or two after completing these steps.

This method is designed to work even in the most uncomfortable situations and can be incredibly effective for those who follow the steps closely and practice regularly. Fighter pilots who often deal with erratic sleep schedules have benefited from this method, and it can be adapted by anyone looking to improve their ability to fall asleep quickly.

Creating the Perfect Sleep Environment

: A person wearing a sleep mask, embodying tranquility and the effectiveness of sensory reduction, a key aspect of preparing the mind for a restful night using the military method.

Optimizing your bedroom to encourage quick sleep onset is crucial. Here are some tips to create an ideal sleep environment:

  1. Control the Temperature: The ideal temperature for sleep is between 66 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit (19 to 21 degrees Celsius). A cooler room helps decrease your core body temperature, a signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.4

  2. Minimize Light Exposure: Reduce blue light exposure from screens before bedtime and use blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out light. This helps promote melatonin production, a hormone critical for sleep regulation.5

  3. Reduce Noise: Minimize noise disruptions with soundproofing or use white noise machines to drown out external sounds. Consistent, low background noise can help prevent sleep disruptions from sudden loud noises.

  4. Comfortable Bedding: Use high-quality, moisture-wicking covers and breathable, natural fibers for your bedding. Ensure your mattress and pillows support your preferred sleep posture.

The Role of Sleep Hygiene

Establishing a comprehensive sleep hygiene routine is vital for falling asleep quickly and maintaining good quality sleep. Here are elements to include in your sleep hygiene routine:

Consistent Sleep Schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This consistency strengthens your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Pre-Sleep Routine

Engage in relaxing activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, or meditation to wind down before bed. Start relaxing about an hour before your bedtime to signal to your body that sleep is near.

Mind Your Diet

Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep. Instead, focus on light snacks that won't weigh down your digestive system.

Limit Daytime Naps

If you must nap, keep it short—about 20 to 30 minutes. This can help prevent sleep problems at night.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Seated in a meditative pose, an individual practices diaphragmatic breathing, a step in the military method to calm the mind and body before sleep.

People often make a few common mistakes to fall asleep fast. Here's how to avoid them:

  1. Worrying About Sleep: Stressing about falling asleep only makes it harder to doze off. If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

  2. Irregular Sleep Patterns: An inconsistent sleep schedule can confuse your body’s internal clock. Stick to a regular routine to help regulate your sleep patterns.

  3. Overstimulation Before Bed: Engaging with electronic devices or stimulating activities can keep you awake. Avoid screens and intense physical or mental activities in the hours leading up to bedtime.

  4. Poor Sleep Environment: A bedroom that's too warm, too bright, or too noisy can significantly impact sleep efficiency. Invest in creating a sleep sanctuary that promotes relaxation and minimizes sleep disturbances.

FAQs on Quick Sleep Techniques

How effective is the Military Method for the average person?

The Military Method can be highly effective for anyone, not just military service members. Its success lies in its ability to train the body and mind to relax swiftly. Regular practice enhances its effectiveness, helping individuals fall asleep faster over time.

Can these techniques help with chronic insomnia?

While these techniques are beneficial for many, those with chronic insomnia may need a more comprehensive approach. Incorporating these methods can be part of a broader treatment plan that includes consulting a sleep specialist and possibly exploring cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).

Are there any tools or apps that can assist with these techniques?

Yes, several apps and devices are designed to promote relaxation and sleep. Apps that feature guided breathing exercises, meditation sessions, or soothing sounds can complement techniques like the 4-7-8 breathing method or the Military Method.

How long before bed should I start these techniques?

It’s best to begin these relaxation techniques 20 to 30 minutes before your intended sleep time. This gives your body and mind ample time to wind down and enter a state conducive to sleep.

What if these techniques don’t work for me?

If these techniques do not yield results, consider factors like your sleep environment, overall sleep hygiene, and lifestyle habits that could be interfering with your sleep. Also, persistent sleep issues should be discussed with a healthcare provider to rule out underlying conditions.

Conclusion:How To Fall Asleep in 10 Seconds

Techniques like the Military Method and the 4-7-8 breathing technique are powerful tools that, when practiced regularly, can help minimize sleep latency and improve sleep efficiency. By establishing a calming pre-sleep routine and optimizing your sleep environment, you set the stage for effective rest.

It's important to remember that while quick sleep techniques can be beneficial, they are most effective when combined with good sleep hygiene and a healthy lifestyle. If you continue to experience sleep problems or if falling asleep quickly remains a challenge, it may be beneficial to consult a certified sleep science coach or a medical professional to explore further options.

With the right approach and mindset, restful and rejuvenating sleep is within your reach. It will enhance your quality of life and empower you for the challenges of each new day.


  1. Medic, G., Wille, M., & Hemels, M. E. (2017). Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and science of sleep9, 151–161. https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S134864

  2. Aktaş, G. K., & İlgin, V. E. (2023). The Effect of Deep Breathing Exercise and 4-7-8 Breathing Techniques Applied to Patients After Bariatric Surgery on Anxiety and Quality of Life. Obesity surgery33(3), 920–929. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11695-022-06405-1

  3. Toussaint, L., Nguyen, Q. A., Roettger, C., Dixon, K., Offenbächer, M., Kohls, N., Hirsch, J., & Sirois, F. (2021). Effectiveness of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Deep Breathing, and Guided Imagery in Promoting Psychological and Physiological States of Relaxation. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM2021, 5924040. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/5924040

  4. Harding, E. C., Franks, N. P., & Wisden, W. (2019). The Temperature Dependence of Sleep. Frontiers in neuroscience13, 336. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00336

  5. Shechter, A., Kim, E. W., St-Onge, M. P., & Westwood, A. J. (2018). Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of psychiatric research96, 196–202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015