This Military Meditation Routine Helps You Fall Asleep Fast

This Military Meditation Routine Helps You Fall Asleep Fast

Need to fall asleep fast? One mid-century relaxation technique, developed in the US Navy Pre-Flight School, supposedly works within minutes. It may not be magic, but it seems like a pretty good way to relax your body and mind.

The basics, described in Relax and Win and summarized on Medium, are to relax your body, part by part, and then attempt to totally clear your mind for ten seconds. Here’s a script:

  • Relax the muscles in your face, including your tongue, jaw, and the muscles around your eyes.

  • Drop your shoulders as low as they’ll go. Then relax your upper and lower arm on one side, and then the other.

  • Breathe out, and relax your chest.

  • Finally, relax your legs, first thighs and then calves.

Take about a minute and a half to go through the list, relaxing every body part fully, and then try to clear your mind for ten seconds. As Art of Manliness reports, Bud Winter (who designed the program) suggests you pick one of these mental images:

  • Lying in a canoe on a calm lake, nothing but blue sky above you.

  • Snuggled in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room

  • Saying “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” over and over for ten seconds.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because a similar sequence ” relaxing your body part-by-part ” is the basis of almost every sleep meditation trick out there. So, does this work? Almost certainly yes.

But is this trick really the best or fastest way to fall asleep? The current US Air Force website has a bunch of sleep recommendations, with no mention of a specific, mandatory two-minute script. The US Army, meanwhile, advises that “The bottom line when it comes to getting restful sleep is doing what works for you. There is no magical formula other than listening to your body.”

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • I’ve found simply counting backwards from ten to work quite well in the middle of the night.

  • Personally, I like to make sure I give each muscle a stretch first, before relaxing it.
    Feels like it works better. Releasing shit that’s stored up in there, or just triggering endorphins to deal with the damage, I dunno, either way it just feels very relaxing to stretch each part in sequence before relaxing it.

  • my usual mantra before sleeping is ‘don’t think about that stupid thing you said 15 years ago, don’t think about that stupid thing you said 15 years ago’

    works every time.

  • The easiest thing I’ve found to help get to sleep is to get out of bed at the same time each day, be active during the day, eat on a regular schedule and avoid stimulating activities after dinner.

    The only time that I’ve had trouble getting to sleep was when I was anticipating an activity the next day that I wasn’t fully prepared for. Most often that was due to poor planning, poor time management, and bad work habits.

    • With enough activity and sunlight during the day it’s highly unlikely you’ll have a problem in the first place. But you can try writing down your worries (freeing up working memory), progressive relaxation (as described but with initial tensing of muscles (a superior method)), or try my method of counting down from 1000… while skipping two numbers at a time (so counting down in threes). Works for me! 🙂

  • I don’t fall asleep fast, (which is a speed) I fall asleep quickly, (a short period of time) when laying on the bed at night.

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