How to Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes or Less
Have you ever unexpectedly found yourself with a snatch of time in which to steal a nap? You tried to settle into the chair or nook in which you found yourself, closed your eyes, and then . . . you just sat there, drowsy but awake.
It’s quite a knack to be able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat, regardless of where you are and what’s going on around you.
The technique for how to do so was in fact developed for Naval aviators during World War II, and today we’ll share it with you.
How to Physically Relax
In Relax and Win, the book Winter wrote about the program he developed for combat aviators and then used with athletes after the war, he lays out the exact instructions he gave to cadets to teach them how to relax their bodies; here we give them slightly condensed:
Did you feel the muscles in the back of your neck go limp?
Now, let’s go after the eight muscles that control your eyes. Let them go limp in their sockets. No focus, just let them go limp. Breathe slowly.
Sit back in your chairs and put your feet flat on the deck. Knees apart, your hands limp on the inside of your lap. Now, close your eyes and drop your chin until it rests on your chest.
Imagine you are a big, heavy blob on the chair, a jellyfish. Breathe slowly. When you exhale, release more and more of your tensions.
First, talk to your right bicep. Tell it to relax, go limp. Do the same to your right forearm. Now to the right hand and fingers. Your arm should feel like a dead weight on your leg. Repeat the relaxation process with your left arm. Breathe slowly.
Let’s go after your arms. Talk directly to your arm muscles.
Now for your lower body. Talk to your right thigh muscles. Let them go to a dead weight on the chair.
Let the meat hang on the bones. Go through the same routine for the right calf muscles. Then all the muscles of your right ankle and foot. Tell yourself that your right leg has no bones in it. It is just a flabby, heavy weight on the deck. Repeat the process with your left thigh, calf, ankle, and foot.
If you have trouble getting any of your body parts to feel sufficiently relaxed and jellyfish-like, try tensing them up first, and then letting them go loose.
How to Mentally Relax
Winter argues that once you’re physically relaxed, if you get “your mind clear of any active thoughts for just ten seconds, you will be asleep.”
The key to falling asleep quick is thus to stop the train of thoughts that is usually rumbling through your head. You have to stop ruminating on the regrets, worries, and problems of the day
Winter particularly warns against having any thoughts in which you are in motion; studies done by placing electrodes on the cadets’ bodies showed that even when you simply think of performing an activity, the muscles involved in that activity actually contract.
First, we want you to fantasize that it is a warm spring day and you are lying in the bottom of a canoe on a very serene lake. You are looking up at a blue sky with lazy, floating clouds.
In the second sleep-producing fantasy, imagine that you are in a big, black, velvet hammock and everywhere you look is black. You must also hold this picture for ten seconds.
The third trick is to say the words ‘don’t think . . . don’t think . . . don’t think,’ etc.
Hold this, blanking out other thoughts for at least ten seconds.”