How to Fall Asleep in 120 Seconds

Trouble sleeping? Here’s a military-tested trick for guaranteed slumber

Sharon Ackman


Photo by Jon Robinson on Unsplash

When you’re on military exercise, sleep is a luxury. Maybe you can only snatch a few hours each day. So there’s nothing so frustrating as lying in your sleeping bag with your eyes closed, waiting for something to happen.

You’re totally exhausted. You have to be up in three hours for picket. You’re distracted by the noises around you. There’s a rock jutting into your hip bone. Or you’re replaying the day’s events on repeat in your head.

If you don’t sleep, you’ll burn out pretty quickly. You’ll make bad decisions. You’ll let people down and become a liability.

That’s what happened with U.S. fighter pilots in World War II. The U.S. military realized many of its pilots were making terrible, avoidable decisions due to stress and the resulting sleeplessness. Shooting down friendlies. Being shot down themselves. Even when pilots clocked off, they couldn’t relax and they couldn’t sleep. So their stress and fatigue built up, till they made a fatal error.

No one wants to be that guy.

Luckily, you never have to be. The U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School developed a scientific method to fall asleep day or night, in any conditions, in under two minutes. After six weeks of practice, 96 percent of pilots could fall asleep in two minutes or less. Even after drinking coffee, with machine gunfire being played in the background.

Which means if you follow these steps, falling asleep will be a piece of cake.

Work with the real estate you have

Check out the available terrain. It might seem uninspiring, but that’s no problem. In fact, if you can stretch out at all, you’re already way ahead.

In the training, the pilots were taught to fall asleep while sitting upright in a chair. Which is a tough position to sleep in when you’re feeling restless. It’s why the airlines invented business class. But it was all the pilots needed. Sitting back in the chairs, they put their feet flat, and let their hands go limp against their laps. So remember a sleeping mat or room to lay down is a bonus. Work with the real estate you’ve got, knowing a…



Sharon Ackman

Writes about food, health, and physical and mental high performance