There are few things more frustrating than spending a night tossing and turning, desperately trying to doze off to sleep. And now the British government has announced that it will be publishing a set of official guidelines on “sleep hygiene” to help improve public general health.
But if you’re used to lying in bed awake at night, brain whirring at a million miles an hour and unable to get the sweet, sweet slumber you crave, then good news.
There’s a brilliant military technique that is said to help anyone fall asleep in just two minutes – and it might just change your life. The trick is reportedly used by the US army to help them fall asleep in situations that are less than peaceful, such as on battlefields.
Detailed in the book Relax and Win: Championship Performance, 1981, the technique is thought to have been developed by army chiefs to ensure soldiers didn’t make life-threatening mistakes due to exhaustion. Here’s how to do it:
- Relax the muscles in your face, including tongue, jaw and the muscles around the eyes.
- Drop your shoulders as far down as they’ll go, followed by your upper and lower arm, one side at a time.
- Breathe out, relaxing your chest followed by your legs, starting from the thighs and working down.
- You should then spend 10 seconds trying to clear your mind before thinking about one of the three following images:
- You’re lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but a clear blue sky above you
- You’re lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room
- You say “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” to yourself over and over for about 10 seconds.
- The technique is said to work for 96 per cent of people after six weeks of practice.
The NHS (National Health Service) currently recommends the average person needs around eight hours of good-quality sleep every night to function properly. It warns a lack of sleep can make people more prone to a number of medical conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.
With one in three people in the UK suffering from poor sleep, the army trick could provide some sweet relief. If that doesn’t work, sleep expert Dr, Neil Stanley says the most important factor when it comes to falling asleep is quieting your mind.
“In order to get to sleep you need three things: a bedroom conducive to sleep’ a relaxed body and most importantly a quiet mind. You can’t go to sleep if your mind is racing and so anything you can do to slow it down will help you sleep,” he tells The Independent.
“There is no magic way of doing this, you have to find what works for you, be that reading, a warm bath, camomile tea, mindfulness, aromatherapy or listening to Pink Floyd. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it stops you worrying about the stresses of the day.”