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A military technique for falling asleep in two minutes (independent.co.uk)
829 points by pmoriarty 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 224 comments

Usually when I suffer from an inability to sleep it's because my mind ends up focusing too hard on things that ground me to reality. Existential dread, worrying about work, thinking about technical problems etc.

So often my technique to fall asleep has been to focus my mind on the fantastical. Stimulate my imagination a bit, like what if I was a dwarf in a fantasy universe. This tends to focus my thoughts inwards and naturally segues into sound sleeping. Letting my mind wander only becomes an issue when it's anchored to real life.

I also do this. Time-travel to Ancient Rome, winning the lottery, pandemic survival, going to Mars. I find I just start the scenario, and the imagination takes its own turns. It's like daydreaming and it's an enjoyable way of falling asleep quickly.

I just do abstract absurdism, like: what if a space ship was propelled by teddy bears? Bright lances of ionized teddy bears cleaving the sky in twain from distant torchships pulling out of parking orbit. Power armor visor stress test. Hammer. .50 cal. RPG. Someone just spilled neutronium. It eats through to the Earth's core. An algorithm iterates over all the atoms in the Universe, replacing every other with its antiparticle.

And then noises wake me up all night, and I get bad sleep. :3

As my mind falls between asleep and awake my brain would start coming up with absurd thoughts as well. This would also happens when I'm too tired (think you haven't sleep for 24+ hours).

I sometimes speculate that your brain comes up with absure ideas all the time, and a "reality checker" would dismiss those ideas without you realising it when you're awake? Perhaps the absurd thoughts come out only when you're tired (checker running low energy) or falling asleep? May be some types of psychological dieases are due to this checker not working properly?

No doubt certain other, cough[0], influences inhibit that checker too. I wouldn't know though. : p In my case, I feel like I deliberately keep such checking off to diminish the profoundly powerful boredom of trying to drift off to sleep. You might as well try to keep yourself entertained before you dissolve into the void!

0: https://youtu.be/c2LXul1XAvk

Yes yes, this happens to me as well, but I don't make an effort to conjure these thoughts... they come on their own as I drift to sleep. Perhaps if your brain is too active at bed time, it needs a little boost to get it into sleep-mode, in which case intentionally creating these thoughts helps.

Yes. This has been my long time go to method. I think of something spectacular. I'm a caveman and need to find meat in order for my family to survive. I'm a part of a space voyage 1000 year into the future. I'm a billionaire with no responsibilities. It allows my mind to wander and go into a world that similar to dreaming. It helps my racing mind quite a bit at night.

Seems like a case of Maladaptive Daydreaming.

Sure. Call it whatever you'd like. It helps me sleep.

That sounds like the opposite of maladaptive?

I don't even feel that I'm deliberately doing it. Every time before I fall asleep, my mind naturally wanders off to a daydreaming state before I know it. I only consciously realize this is happening whenever I'm disrupted by noise just before I totally drift off. I think this is basically how every sleep happens really. If you focus on it then you're likely accelerating this natural process.

And i thought i'm the only one with a fantasy world that progresses a little every night before sleeping. Not much progress though because i fall asleep very quickly when i'm there.

I have the exact same symptom and solution. Well, not the dwarf part... but I'll imagine myself doing something, like riding a rollercoaster for example. I think about every hill and movement, how the wheels are engaging with the track, the hydraulics squeezing to stop the car at the end, etc. Thinking carefully about all of these details takes my mind away from reality and into my imagination, which is where my dreams begin.

I tried a few different techniques including breathing and meditation and thinking out a fantasy universe has always worked the best for me.

It also helps me to realise when I'm unable to fall asleep at all. If I can't visually imaging what happens in my fantasy world I know my mind is to busy and I'm better of reading a book for 10 minutes and try again instead of forcing myself to sleep (which never works)

I've read about the military technique the article outlines before, and it didn't work for me at all. On the other hand, letting my mind come up with some crazy dream has worked wonders for getting me to sleep -- so, it's validating to read that this works for someone else, too. That could be a sign that more than one type of insomnia exists.

Did you practice it for 6 weeks before writing it off as a technique? Because that's supposed to happen ..

+1 - imagining myself in some sort of benign make-believe world and what I'd be doing rapidly sends me to sleep. Personally not dwarfs for me, but could be anything - e.g. if I were a living in a TV show/movie's world how would I act?, or if I won the lottery tomorrow what would I spend it on?, or if I could just snap my fingers Magic Genie-style to do things what would I do with that power?

I guess it is the introspection part that concentrates the mind on something totally frivolous and non-productive that allows you to just drop off.

Whatever the root-cause, usually it is a matter of just rolling over, shutting my eyes, then I get maybe 30-90 seconds of make-believe time and I am off and asleep. Probably works about 90-95% of the time - there are off days where I really cant sleep and now I just get up and do something instead.

Doesn't seem to work on planes though! :(

Going back as far as I can remember, to about 5 or 6 years old, it has always taken me a very long time to fall asleep — like, at least an hour or two. It just takes a long time for my brain to shut itself off.

I have to hold myself as perfectly still as possible, not scratching any itches that might come up, or letting anything else cause me to move a muscle. Or, if I do have to move, get it over quickly and then go back to being still.

After a long enough time, I can sometimes notice that I have lost awareness of where certain parts of my body are located. I know that I still have an arm, but it’s not tingling or anything and I don’t have a somatic sense of where it is. Same for other parts of my body. Sometimes I have this awareness multiple times in a night, and it’s like someone is slowly dimming the lights on all those circuits until they finally extinguish, one by one.

By the time I was in high school, I discovered Dungeons & Dragons, and it was easier for me to fall asleep by imagining what my favorite characters would do in various scenarios. And over thirty years later, I continue to use that same basic concept — different RPG characters now, but the same concept.

One of the best things I discovered recently is the “Stillness Moves You” class that my friend Ariana Armistead taught a few years ago. She later developed that into the “InStill Movement” method (see http://instillmovement.com). It is simultaneously the most relaxing AND the most energizing thing I have ever done in my life.

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. It's cool to see so many others saying that they do the same thing.

I do this from time to time as an act of rebellion against the part of me that takes life too seriously. The speech that I give myself goes something like this: "You have this amazing mind that is capable of creating entire worlds. But you've been spending all of your time and energy worrying about stuff. Let's have some fun for a while and practice strengthening our imagination."

I do similar - what if I lived in Ancient Rome, what would my ideal spaceship look like. Stuff that is interesting but inconsequential.

On a couple of occasions I've tried "lucid dreaming". I imagine myself in a tunnel and I find a hole in the ground and descend down, down, down into the dark by a rope, and sometimes my mind will make some interesting things happen. Sometimes I'll just fall asleep :-)

I am fascinated that so many people do this. I always thought I had discovered a little cheat code to sleep. I try to solve impossible technical problems (eg designing a perpetual motion machine, walk on water, space propulsion system to put humanity in Alpha Centauri.) I figure that if I don't fall asleep, I may just make some major breakthrough so it's worth it!

The other approach I take is to listen to a podcast that has an even emotional flow (99% invisible is a great one).

The common thread in all these approaches is that they help me stop thinking about the real issues in my life. It's easy to run a groove in your mind thinking about some very real problem you're dealing with and that makes it hard to fall asleep.

I do this. I fantasise about a fictional point in time when I pump myself full of nanotech, and transition to post-human. Going through the details as they interact with blood, muscle, bone, neurons etc. helps me to cool the dread and drift off.

Reading through the scenarios people use I think someone should create a website with a list- http://www.thingstothinkabouttofallasleep.com

Yes I find that immediately before my brain falls asleep, my thoughts turn very abstract or even surreal.. like they don't make much sense.

It's hard to remember of an example right now because this all happens in some layer of subconsciousness and evaporates as soon as you fall asleep/wake up but it's something like "oh I'm just here smelling this colour and it kind of tastes like cinnamon."

Actually probably even more abstract than that, but that's the best I could do on short notice while fully awake.

I think of riding ferris wheels or a sinking/falling feeling of approaching Earth in a space capsule coming back from the moon.

I sometimes do something similar, I try to do hard sums in my head, multiplication and division of big numbers. I think it has the same effect distracting me from the issues in reality and my mind can get bored / tired.

For me, it‘s going through every tiny movement of a special climb, thinking about what worked and what didn‘t. All these things have the same core, focusing on the body and freeing your mind from distressing thoughts about work, life or relationships.

I'm the same. I keep progressing through this sci-fi story as a spaceship captain.

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I've been building a fantasy world for the last decade and it's just in my head. Totally inconsequential and the stories don't need to match, it's great.

Agreed. I know I'm drifting off to sleep when my thoughts get more and more fantastical and abstract. Just keep nurturing that and.... it's morning.

I do this too. Fantasy universe works best for me. Always asleep after a few minutes doing this

I've had a lot of problems in my life, but most of them never happened.

I nap for 20 minutes every day at work (at my previous company, for 4 years or so and now since I'm working remotely). Here are my steps for taking a nap:

1. Find a good place to nap. Use the same place every day. I used to nap under my desk on a lazy bag at my last job.

2. Quickly find a comfortable position. Quickly fix everything that bothers you (like watch on your wrist or anything else that's making you uncomfortable).

3. Start breathing from your stomach - not your upper torso. Your stomach should raise up and down, not your upper torso.

4. Relax your whole body. In the beginning, start by relaxing one by one region. First your toes. Then your lower leg, then your upper leg. Then the other leg... Until you relax your whole body. It should feel as your mind is separate from your body. Like it could go out of it. Your body should be completely numb. Later, as you progress, you will be able to relax your whole body with a few breaths. As if some force flows from your stomach and removes spasm from your body as you breath out.

5. Start removing thoughts from your brain. As you start thinking about something, just stop. Another thought comes in. Kill it. Just kill thoughts. You can think only about your breathing. Nothing else.

That's it. With these steps, I'm able to feel a sleep in just a few moments. I use that all the time.

Bonus: I have a special position that I "developed" that mitigates office sounds. I nap on my back, slightly turned on left side. I put my left ear on the pillow or a lazy bag. I put my right hand over my right ear and over my head. That way, a pillow isolates my left ear, while my right biceps isolates my right ear from sounds. I found this to be very effective.

Good luck napping.

> 5. Start removing thoughts from your brain. As you start thinking about something, just stop. Another thought comes in. Kill it. Just kill thoughts. You can think only about your breathing. Nothing else.

If only it was this easy!! It almost feels like a variation of "start outlining the owl... now when you have the outline, just draw the rest of the owl". :-)

It's still helpful to know that this is the "right way" to do it. For years, my wife struggled with falling asleep, and was jealous of my ability to just stop thinking and log out.

She told me that she wasn't able to just stop thinking. She went to sleep by distracting herself with a book, TV, or tablet. Her approach was to do that restful activity until the intense thoughts of the past day and plans for tomorrow dropped off and were replaced with sudoku numbers or the TV program that were calm enough to sleep, or did those things from midnight until 3-5am when she was so exhausted she couldn't think about anything anymore and just slept for a couple hours.

The insomnia got really bad after our first kid. She tried changing diets, cutting out blue lights with tablet apps or bulbs for reading that were so warm they were basically orange-red, changing her soda habit to eliminate caffeine after noon and food after 6pm, changed mattresses and pillows, changed bedroom temperatures, blankets, and sleepwear, took melatonin, benadryl, and other sleep aids, ran white noise and fans...it didn't work.

But eventually (after seeing a doctor) the root cause was isolated to that reading/TV/tablet habit. It doesn't help. What you have to do to fall asleep per this article, the parent comment, and my wife's doctor, is to stop thinking. Meditative breathing exercises were eventually the solution we reached, but it all basically amounts to training your brain to stop thinking thoughts that aren't about your going-to-sleep process. The process, not the annoyance of your inability to sleep and the tiredness you'll feel in the morning and how long has it been and what is that clicking sound and did I forget to lock the doors and I feel a little thirsty but I don't want to have to pee. Kill the errant thoughts, go to sleep.

I've found that the approach of "killing" thoughts sets up an impossible and never-ending conflict that distracts from the goal of trying to fall asleep.

Instead I try to focus on something, e.g. my breath entering and existing my nose or lungs. Then, as thoughts arise I simply acknowledge them and 'let them go' returning my focus back to my breath.

It's perhaps a subtle distinction but it works much better for me than thinking about thoughts as a game of whack-a-mole.

The key here is that this becomes easier as you do it. It's hard fighting off those few first thoughts, but I personally find that once I do, my brain is put into slow gear and fewer thoughts come up. This has an accumulating effect and I'm asleep before I know it.

Here's a technique that works for me:

So, when I close my eyes I can "see" things. I don't know if it's light coming trough my lids or blood vessels or just my mind's eye. I don't know. But what I'll do as a last resource when I have trouble sleeping is to pay full attention to those things and find patterns in them. I even say out loud in my mind like: "oh there's a dog", "a canoe", "a cigarrette".

Then I'm dreaming in no time.

I told my wife and she says that she sees nothing when she close her eyes so, maybe this won't work for everybody.

For years growing up, I'd notice that sometimes when I had my eyes closed, there were sometimes glowing circles in the darkness. Sometimes they'd be colorful and others they were like the typical photo of an eclipse. It was usually just as I was drifting off, I'd notice them.

Years later I realized that I could make them appear at-will by wiggling my eyes around (a la REM), and that lead me to conclude that it's likely my overly-long (i'm severely myopic) eyeballs physically stimulating my optic nerves.

I don't notice it as much lately, and I avoid doing it on purpose, in case it's not healthy.

I'm not myopic and I see those too.

I see something as well. I’ll definitely give this a try, thanks.

It's more like taking steps that eventually equate to running a marathon. Drawing an owl has many different actions that you can fail to adequately describe. Here the task itself is very simple. You just need to repeat it many more times than seems reasonable to you in your untrained state.

I phrase it as its no different than exercise. You'll never get good at it if you never try. And it gets easier with time and practice, just like running a mile.

I actually can do that, but instead of falling asleep I go into a not very pleasant "meditative" state that I have to exert effort to exit (a bit like sleep paralysis).

This takes practice. Try it first for one minute, then two. It's just like physical exercise, but with your mind instead.

For many people, and myself, telling yourself to think of something is a good way to make your mind blank.

I have heard several guided meditations having an instruction like "let your mind do whatever it wants to do". Surprisingly it works very well to let the mind do nothing.

It sounds a lot like the "body scan" meditation. I expect there are scripts/videos available to follow until you get used to doing it without.

>5. Start removing thoughts from your brain. As you start thinking about something, just stop. Another thought comes in. Kill it. Just kill thoughts. You can think only about your breathing. Nothing else.

I prefer the "Mindfulness" method of this technique. It does not involve "killing" the thoughts that pop into your head, but rather acknowledging that these thoughts have distracted you from your breathing, being okay with that, and simply returning to the breath. The distracting thoughts will come back, and that is okay. Just return to recognizing the different parts of your breathing: the points between inhaling and exhaling, the feeling of your abdomen rising/falling.

This is like giving an advice to someone who doesn't know how to bike. Get on the bike, hold the handle bar so the bike doesn't fall, place your butt on the seat, place your feet on the pedals and start pedaling.

Good luck biking

OF course practice is part of it. No help at all to ridicule the process, but to describe it helps folks to know how to begin.

The instructions are not wrong, and your snark is not helpful.

Perhaps the missing instruction is:

> Practice until the desired effect happens regularly, then continue to practice.

> Start removing thoughts from your brain. As you start thinking about something, just stop.

I had a hard time sleeping just last night. I couldn't stop thinking about things - I even had to eventually google the chemical composition of Sodium Bicarbonate, and of course what exactly Bicarbonate was...then of course that led to questions on Sodium Bicarbonate vs Sodium Chloride...it's a never ending process for me sometimes at night.

I will certainly try this though.

I can relate to this! Letting go of these thought trains is so very hard and keeps me up, my partner hates it when she sees my phone screen light up at night...i don’t blame her but ironically it’s a faster path to sleep for us both.

Have pen&paper nearby. When things come up that are hard to dismiss directly, write them down. Then you can forget it and continue in the morning (or not).

This can be done with practice. There are several meditative practices to overcome an obsession with transient thoughts. Check out Daoist meditation as a start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daoist_meditation

There are many good guided audio meditation available these days as well.

> a pillow isolates my left ear, while my right biceps isolates my right ear from sounds

Have you experimented with any kind of ear plugs? I have really good hearing which makes falling asleep stressful if the house isn't otherwise quiet, even with white noise.

I'd love to find a good set of ear plugs or ear muffs or something that can be worn to sleep. Like a sleep mask, but for your ears.

In my experience, most drugstores sell several different variations of foam earplugs, and the ones that work best for me are the ones with the greatest noise reduction — at least 32db NRR or better.

But the biggest single device that has helped me more than anything is my CPAP.

If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, it would be a very good idea to have a sleep study done to see if this isn’t a problem that could be at least partly solved with the right equipment.

The CPAP is a life-changer, at least for me.

You might be able to use normal, foam earplugs. If you sleep on your side, only use one plug for the ear that's not on the pillow. You'll need to get used to having them in your ears, though. I wore them as much as possible (even during the day) for a few weeks until they didn't bother me. Now I sleep like a champ. The only downside is I cannot sleep w/o them.

>5. Start removing thoughts from your brain. As you start thinking about something, just stop. Another thought comes in. Kill it. Just kill thoughts. You can think only about your breathing. Nothing else.

You won't really appreciate the benefits of ADD until you read things like these.

I've found brain.fm fairly effective at making me fall asleep for a nap. They have a nap category where you select the length of time you want to sleep.

I can actually vouch for this, but I discovered it independently for myself. I realized that the nights I couldn't fall asleep were nights my brain kept racing and thinking about different things. Kind of like a wikipedia rabbit hole where my mind keeps racing onto the next tangential thought.

So I found a foolproof solution: Relax all my facial muscles and imagine an empty, black (literally #000) void in my mind's eye.

The physical cue is to be cognizant of your eyes; every time my eyes began to squint, I know it was because my mind was wandering off. I'd reset my closed eyes to be as loose (imagine a very bored expression) as possible and revert back to my black space. As long as I kept fighting the temptation for my mind to wander, and maintain loose eyes, I fell asleep. All anecdotal of course, but I did use this just recently at burning man while soundcamps blasted my tent, and it's nice to see this method validated in this article.

I used to do something similar. These days I start planning my retirement. I imagine some deserted moon base orbiting a Saturn like planet orbiting a small red dwarf star ejected out of its galaxy into the void. No people, no chance of anybody or anything ever finding it. Trillions of years of quiet solitude before the star burns out. I've never gotten much farther than a few ideas into how it will all come together before zzzzzzzz....

Are you that guy on that inner moon with the shiny rooftop who keeps reflecting the sunlight at me twice per orbit?

Seriously, you'll retain heat better with a dark, matte finish on your dome, and you'll blind me less often. In any case, you might also want to reconsider your choice of moons, as yours seems a bit deep into the radiation belts. Out here we orbit much more slowly, peacefully, and we're far from the radiation.

>you'll retain heat better with a dark, matte finish on your dome

No, they won't. There's a reason a perfect radiator is known as a "black body". Emissivity (a coefficient that describes the degree to which an object radiates, compared to a black body) is the exact inverse of reflectivity. That's why space blankets are shiny.

Of course, dark objects also absorb more heat, so depending on how much radiation you're getting from the sun, a black roof might result in a warmer home. But it won't be because it's retaining heat.

At the temperature that we generally keep our vacuum-facing surfaces they absorb far more energy in the form of light than the energy that they radiate. Energy management is tight when you're orbiting a small red dwarf star ejected out of its galaxy into the void!

Hah I like this! For a while I used to imagine being on a spaceship on a long interstellar trip with my family on board with me. Planning where all the cabins were, what the living area looked like, views of interstellar space outside always used to send me off...

Made my day reading this!

I've actually found that forced "tangential" thinking makes me fall asleep really fast. Basically, free association but you have to move onto the next thing instantly (eg. Think of a feather and then it's like a comb and maybe the comb is green then green grass, etc). I just seamlessly transition into dreaming. The key is not dwelling but moving on right away so you don't get stuck on things like "where are my car keys" or whatever.

That sounds really similar to what I often do. I often start picturing a tree, then I force one transition and feel like I let the brain switch images without my involvement.

It's really hard to describe it but here is a simplified example.

Tree -> zoom into the leaves which are actually a field of grass -> there is a small pond -> pond is now growing -> I see a sky now -> random colors and shapes are showing up... And it keeps on going and I don't even notice when I fall asleep.

Hmm, sometimes I wake up in few minutes after falling asleep and realize that my mind did exactly what you described, but without my intent. Just quickly changing thoughts with no focus, as if gc started its mark phase.

That's why I consider this behaviour as more like a symptom of falling asleep. When things get fast and weird it's the sign that the slow consciousness has almost disconnected.

Yup, I also use the same technique.

I think of black, but I make it a little more interesting as the black of deep space.

Like meditation, any thoughts that come in, and I focus back on the black.

Generally, I don't even need to do this - I tend to fall asleep pretty fast.

I am floating on a planet made almost entirely of water, about 70-73f, small waves, nothing extreme. Very fine sand alternating with course sand, in about 2-3 feet of water. Overhead is something that looks like the milky way but isn't. The water is very buoyant and sand is close, there is no fear of drowning or predators. The stars are so close, it feels like you are voyaging through space.

I do the same, except not thinking about black, but just focusing my attention of the visual artefacts that pop up when I have my eyes closed. Just like meditation, but instead of focusing on a part of the body, I focus on the eyes and their visual artefacts when closed.

Isn't this a form of meditation? Stay still and focus your mind on nothingness

> Isn't this a form of meditation?

Yes, it is a form of mindfulness.

> Stay still and focus your mind on nothingness

"Nothingness" is the most difficult way to meditate. Its often seen as the way one meditates by people who are ignorant about meditation and mindfulness.

Generally, there is one focus point. This could be sounds, it could be breathing, it could be visualisations, it could be focusing on walking. It could even be multiple focus points in one session (shifting the focus point throughout the session). Which is pretty much what a body scan does; it focusses on different body parts throughout the session.

Also, it is far easier to do guided meditation, and the goal of meditation is to relax and become focussed; not necessarily to fall asleep. Though, if you are tired, that might very well be a byproduct.

If you start with meditation, it is normal that you're not very good at it. It takes time, practice, and effort. In that sense it is actually hard work; not 'relaxing'.

> Relax all my facial muscles

Normal procedure to relax your muscles at the start and during meditation (if you have to reset).

> and imagine an empty, black (literally #000) void in my mind's eye.

This is one of the many visualisation techniques. Other examples are included in the article's URL.

> It takes time, practice, and effort. In that sense it is actually hard work; not 'relaxing'.

I like this :) I think of it as furious concentration on stillness.

Beginner meditators often think they're not cut out for meditation because their minds are full of noise during meditation. This is normal.

The usual progression is: observing thoughts to gain insight ("hey, I'm thinking lots of angry thoughts", "why do I keep thinking about my boss?"); then focusing on one thing only, an anchor, like breathing; finally, focusing on nothing.

For me, successfully focusing on nothing happens occasionally, and only a moment at a time.

I love the feeling though - it feels like the top of my head has come off and my brain's turned into hamburger meat.

I know this might not sound desirable :) But for me it felt like my mind was a clenched fist that finally relaxed.

I practiced mindful meditation to overcome sleeping issues. The technique was as follows:

- Lie down on the back, in a way that feels like you can release body tension in limbs, neck, and back.

- Take a couple deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling fully. Then, focus on your natural breath: breathe normally for about a minute; don't try to control its rhythm, rather observe it (is it slow? fast? deep? shallow?) and acknowledge it without judgement, focusing on the flow of air in your lungs or throat, or the area in your chest that goes up and down with each breath (whichever is easier for you).

- Focus on body contact with the bed. Feel the weight of the different parts of your body pushing down against the mattress.

- Focus on your feet, and relax just this part by consciously observing how it feels (is it tense? at ease? hot? cold? restless? it doesn't matter, just notice it) and acknowledging it, not combating it. Then consciously think "ok, I'm turning that part off".

- Move gradually upper (lower legs, thigh, and so on), repeating the "observe, acknowledge, turn it off" process, until you reach your head.

- If you're not asleep at that point, focus on the breath again and take note and acknowledge the difference from when you started. Then proceed with the body again.

- if you mind wanders off at any point from your body, observe and acknowledge the thought you just had, then focus on a couple breaths again as previously described, and simply resume where you left off.

The key is being observing, not judgemental about your state (whatever it currently is), realising that thinking "I shall sleep" or "I shall relax" only makes you more aware of you not sleeping, and more tense, thus isn't going to go anywhere.

After meditating for a few months this I have started to notice that the increased mental awareness can make it harder to sleep. I’m more aware of myself gradually falling asleep and sometimes that sudden awareness of ‘oh, I’m falling asleep’ is enough to wake me up a bit.

it's impossible to keep all thoughts from your mind. meditation is having focus on an anchor like breathing so you are aware of the thoughts that occur. im not saying there's a wrong way to meditate, i just don't want people suffering to try the impossible and feel they have failed. being aware you are lost in thought is a huge success.

I have a somewhat limited ability for visual hallucinations, apparently called Aphantasia, discussed before on hn [Aphantasia]. As such, when meditating I tend to simply look at the "blackness" of my eyes closed. What I mostly see is a very dark pulsating tunnel pattern. A quick search suggests this is called phosphenes [phosphenes]. I find it interesting that as I fall asleep the pattern abruptly stops; somewhat like having a LCD screen set to black and the having the backlight turned off.

It works for me, particularly when trying to nap. In the evening I prefer to listen to podcasts. As dzhiurgis mentioned, finding the right podcast makes a big difference. I look for podcasts where are interesting enough to keep listing, but not interesting enough to keep me awake. Usually podcasts with 5-15 minute segments are best. I like The History of English podcast [podcast 1] and The Naked Scientists [podcast 2].

[Aphantasia 176 comments on a fb hosted article] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11554894 [Aphantasia comment by blakeross to a BBC link ] http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34039054 [phosphenes] http://scienceline.org/2014/12/why-do-we-see-colors-with-our... [podcast 1] http://historyofenglishpodcast.com/ [podcast 2]https://www.thenakedscientists.com/

Yup something like this works for me too. I close my eyes and imagine a dark void of nothing. If my mine wanders off I refocus on the dark void again. If my mind is still too active, I have a boring book at hand that I read for a few minutes to clear my mind and get me tired. Then I try again.

> and revert back to my black space. As long as I kept fighting the temptation for my mind to wander

I do the same, but sometimes - when your mind is racing, full of thoughts - this can be hard. I found if I have an equivalent to the black void, which is more interesting, then I don't have to have this fight. Sleep comes easily.

I am fascinated by black holes. So I imagine flying close to the center of the Milky Way, nearing the black hole. Might be nerdy, but it works fine for me.

I have the same problem often, I really enjoy (as I'm sure many of us do) time to myself to think, so being alone with my thoughts and willing myself to relax and not to think of the millions of things I'd like to is akin to telling someone not to eat sweets while dangling a cornetto in front of them.

I also do something similar. Just count (1, 2, 1, 2..) on each breath for as long as I can. When I stop counting I know I've either become distracted or fell asleep. Focusing on one thing ironically (such as counting) tends to be better than letting my mind completely relax (where then it will latch onto any topic it finds).

My technique is similar. Start at the toes and identify each toe then muscle individually and let each relax before moving on to the next. I have never got past the knee before falling asleep.

Not foolproof though; sometimes your thoughts break through and stop the process. So you start again...

It only works for me if I think of Vanta Black!

Must try this though - my wife is often asleep in a minute or so while I take tens of minutes. I wonder how much using mobile devices in bed at night has affected sleep patterns.

I've taken to not using a screen within about an hour of going to bed, and never using the phone in the bedroom (because of association), and my sleep is much better - I fall asleep quicker, and study asleep longer. I tested the opposite on myself previously (intentionally using the phone in bed right up to lights out), and took longer to get to sleep, and woke up around 4-5am feeling not very rested.

Smartphones are the devil.

Mobile devices- anything with a screen that emits blue wavelengths IIRC - are terrible for getting to sleep. I avoid mine except for turning my alarm on.

Exactly right, which is why I adjust my monitor settings down if I stay late at the computer. Do do it in steps, and the adapted eye can go down even farther than "xrandr --output HDMI-0 --brightness 0.05 --gamma 2.0:1.0:0.5" and still see quite well... ;-) Also, for people who read from a tablet or phone in bed, use software that supports a night mode. Set background color to black and font color to dark amber. Then gradually shift down overall brightness. Personally, I use "Cool Reader", which is really good for that, as it lets you adjust brightness just by sliding up/down on the left screen border.

Yet for centuries people have taken siestas in the blueish noon Sunlight, 5500 to 9000 Kelvin.

Why the sudden claimed sensitivity to blue light at night? Correlated to the ubiquity of indoors electrical lighting mimicking the colour of candlelight perhaps?

Or perhaps Westerners aren't going to bed physically tired after a day of sedentary work?

> I avoid mine except for turning my alarm on.

Two solutions to this - get a standalone alarm clock, or set up an alarm to repeat on weekdays so you don't have to do it every evening.

I once fell asleep on my feet inside a festival music tent - I actually wanted to stay awake :)

Sounds very similar to mindfulness meditation.

Military for 24 years, never heard of this, but I learned to take naps in crazy situations: next to a hot landing zone, under an aircraft catapult, in cargo planes, etc. Only common denominators I can think of: exhaustion, a clear conscience, and trust in those around me.

> a clear conscience

That's the real killer for me. I'm not military, but I've managed to somehow get pretty good at sleeping pretty much anywhere. Sleeping on planes or in departure lounges or really anywhere isn't an issue for me, although maybe a steam catapult might keep me up. I think that the hundreds of nights I've slept on couches and backpackers hostels (as well as overnight buses and car trips) have acclimatised me to sleeping in noisy, moving, well lit environments.

I think it's just something that you just get used to. All through South East Asia you'll see people sleeping in the most improbably places, on parked motorbikes, park benches, even in the middle of a busy roundabout in Vietnam. South East Asian people seem to just love sleeping everywhere they can.

But I can only sleep if there aren't things biting at the back of my mind. If something's bothering me (relationships, work, etc.), it doesn't matter how perfect my sleeping environment is, I won't be able to get to sleep for hours. My mind is sleep's worst enemy.

Not in 24 just yet, but in long enough to understand. For me the big difference is how non-complex your life is on deployment, or even just while on course. By the time sleep is an option, there aren't any other jobs to do. I'm not worried about long term tasks or office politics. I don't have to worry about neighbors, traffic cameras, or even whether I remembered to pick up groceries. The one job I am supposed to be doing is sleeping. Everything else is someone else's job.

It is a little different for officers. They (we) do sometimes stay up worrying about longer-term tasks. I find sleep far easier when I'm not the one in charge.

On that note: time to sleep. Got to get up at 0345 for an 0530 meeting.

> exhaustion

This is key. Aboard a ship I was able to nap "on command" no matter the time of day or my surroundings. No mental tricks necessary.

Yeah, I was expecting Step 1 to be: Start your day with a 20 mile run in full gear.

Step 2 is to get permission to fall asleep.

There is no step 3 — because you’re already asleep!


Well done!

That was more likely sleep deprivation.

Which is the actual military trick to falling asleep quickly.

The power of the shortest of naps to completely reset the body's pursuit of sleep in deprivation scenarios never fails to impress me. Even just a few seconds seems to make a tremendous difference, as if it's clearing a "need sleep" bit simply by falling asleep even if momentarily.

When I was in military I could also sleep anywhere, anytime, to a certain degree even while standing or walking. I attribute it to excessive drinking :-) .

It's a UK website, they're talking about the UK military.

Does the UK military not do PT? I'm sure their soldiers are just as exhausted at any given moment as ours are.

As in, that's why you might not have heard of it.

This article is very poorly written regardless of how accurate its contents are. It seems to be based on suggestions, rumors (or rumour since it's UK based), and a 1981 book that very few have read. No actual sources and repeated use of the word secret. Trash.

I thought this article was pretty poorly written too, and the website is a clear example of the "Bullshit Web." https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17655089

However, the number of people who have read a book published in 1981 has no bearing on the validity of the book as a source.

Previous article has the source.


I read about a method years ago. I usually don't have problems falling asleep. But when I do, I do the following:

Try to breath in through one nose hole and breath out through the other. This may sound stupid, but there are two reasons why this works:

1. You focus on doing something else than thinking about stuff that worries you. 2. While doing this your eyes move from left to right. You might remember what hypnotists do: They swing a pendulum from left to right which you have to follow. This eye movement from left to right activates your subconscious part of the brain. I don't know or remember what exactly that does but everytime I use this technique and wake up the next morning I don't remember doing anything after this. Which means I fell asleep.

In yoga, this technique is called "virtual" Nadi Shodana or alternative nostril breathing. There are many variants, A/B tested for centuries, that might work better for different people.

What if only one nostril is "open" at any given time? That is usually the case for me.

As i said. It's not the breathing that's affecting you. It's the eye movement. You don't even have to try breathing like this. I usually just move my eyes left right.

Concentrate on breathing in and out of one side of that nostril. Sounds pretty stupid but it’s no different to OPs suggestion - it will cause the same reactions.

>Try to breath in through one nose hole and breath out through the other.

wait can everyone consciously do this? i can't

You don't have to be able to do it (you can't).

But if you try to do it, you will concentrate on each nostril in turn and little else, in synchronisation with your breathing, which leads to the kind of mild auto-hypnosis that the GP is talking about.

I have heard about that method, too. If I remember it correctly then that exercise can be used to both calm you down and energize you. It all depends on the direction, if you breath in with your left or your right hole. Unfortunately I don't remember which direction is aligned with the calming effect. This can be an advantage: on different days, try out either way and observe what happens. If this method is more than some spiritual entertainment then there should be a clear difference.

That seems quite at odds with how nostrils work. Your nostrils alternate opening and closing autonomically.


" Throughout the day, they each take breaks in a process of alternating congestion and decongestion called the nasal cycle. At a given moment, if you're breathing through your nose, the lion’s share of the air is going in and out of one nostril, with a much smaller amount passing through the other. Every few hours, your autonomic nervous system, which takes care of your heart rate, digestion and other things you don’t consciously control, switches things up and your other nostril does all the heavy lifting for a little while. The opening and closing of the two passages is done by swelling and deflating erectile tissue - the same stuff that’s at work when your reproductive organs are aroused - up in your nose."

Yes, you overwrite that system.

Given that there's no real physical notion of "alignment" at work here, this does seem to sound suspiciously like some pseudo-spiritual entertainment.

Your sibling comment describes a link to the nervous system. If there is a feedback loop then there could be some influence. Personally, I am far from arguing that this is true.

You're right! The sibling comment does describe a behavior that is completely controlled by the autonomous part of the nervous system over which humans have little to no conscious control or ability to override.

Given that pretty much everything in the human body is linked to the nervous system in some manner, it's possible that there might not be a good reason to expect any kind of special feedback loop here.

I remember once, somebody told me that "often times when you think you're not asleep you actually are". Though it sounds absurd, this single line has helped my sleep immeasurably because often my sleeplessness is compounded by the frustration of not being able to sleep! So I just lie there, and let me thoughts go where they will and treat it as a kind of wakeful "dreaming".

The idea being that even though I'm "conscious" of not being asleep my body is still getting the benefit of rest.

It doesn't help completely all the time but it certainly takes the edge off.

Are they just describing Progressive Muscle Relaxation?


Mostly, yes. Guided meditation has long prescribed almost the exact same process.

I immediately thought of Shavasana from yoga.

Eh, to be honest I always found the secret to falling asleep in the military was being bloody tired all the time from carrying heavy stuff, running everywhere, going on adrenaline, getting barely a few hours broken sleep, going on stag at silly o'clock in the morning, being put under pressure for days on end, eating crap, running on tea...

But yeah. Sure. Warm baths, camomile tea and mindfulness...

Many moons ago, my dad taught yoga as a hobby. One of my early memories as a 11 or 12 year old kid, was when I attended a class of his. The class would end with a "shavasana" (corpse posture), where you'd lie down and the instructor would slowly get you to relax.

I still remember my dad's voice as he asked you to imagine you're in an empty field, with a clear sky, nothing at all. Then imagine the "cosmic energy" entering your body through your head. Imagine the energy making its way down, slowly through the length of your body as it clears your thoughts and relaxes your muscles - first your face, then your neck, your shoulders, arms, and so on. As an observer, I'd notice that more than 90% of the class would be in a deep sleep before the end. And it was a big class with some 100-150 people in it.

Just interesting that this "military" technique is so similar (and familiar to me)!

I personally first learned about the described technique at https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/fall-asleep-fast/, where the material seems to be better presented. Hope more people can benefit.

I've tried pretty much everything in the course of my lifelong insomnia, and still my nighttime mind racing is still consistent enough that it's literally my username across all my online apps ("rumination" plus my name). I've had some success with lavender drops right before bed, but I'll give this a shot too, because why not?

I used to have sleepless night once in a while generally due to over-thinking while lying on the bed for years till 2014/15. I experimented with meditation before sleep and since then I haven't had a single sleepless night in all these years. The practice is simple. Turn lights off. Sit (with hips on the pillow) on the same bed you're going to sleep. Sit straight and comfortably (preferably in cross-legged pose), gently close your eyes. Now concentrate on the area Right in the middle of your chest. You can feel bone, muscle or anything else when you focus here. Just continue to concentrate on that physical sensation you're experiencing. Just discard every thought that comes even the thought of how much time has passed. If mind drifts onto some thought, gently bring it back to the area and its sensations. About 8 to 10 minutes of this meditation and you're ready to sleep. Lie down, keep the focus on the same middle of the chest area and don't entertain any thought. They'll still come and if you focus on them, start analyzing/thinking about them, you'll lose the peaceful state just gained with meditation. And you may have to do it again

I generally fall asleep within first few minutes of lying down after this meditation.

The above is my personally tested and daily practiced method. You can also try Yoga Nidra guided meditation audio which has helped people in relaxing the mind before sleep. Go here http://www.swamij.com/Meditations.htm

I just count backwards from 1000. I figured the repetitive chanting bit of counting is what puts you to sleep so starting at a higher number gets you immediately to the repetitive chanty bit, and doing it backwards adds just enough mental overhead that my brain has to mostly shut up all its other chatter (although recently I've noticed that I can just count backwards while also thinking about all the other stuff...)

I just count upwards normally, so it's not a lot of mental work and I can let my mind wander. I also imagine myself hitting the snooze button on my alarm. Nothing makes me fall asleep faster than needing to be awake.

I use high CBD tincture 25:1 and a sleep tincture composed of about 30% indica thc/cbd and the rest non addictive herbs.

I have a lot of pain and am unable to dissociate from it enough to sleep until I’m completely exhausted which several nights a week meant no sleep or just a few hours. These tinctures along with another pain medication (extremely low dose naltrexone, no side effects except better sleep for me) allow me to get a very good nights sleep 80-90% of the time which was a significant improvement in quality of life.

Give it a try if you are having no luck elsewhere!

If you're open to some other experiments, I've had success with ashwagandha and CBD.

You need to look at the terpene profile of the CBD, the wrong terpene profile can actually energize you. Also CBD in small doses can be energizing as well.

Someone at burning man just recommended CBD so I'm excited to see this timely validation.

I had the same problem for years and technique that helped me is "to put day to rest". 30 minutes before sleep I write on paper all good and bad stuff that happened today, and everything that worries me right now. Last part is HUGE sometimes. Then, I write down when I will take care of every worry. It can be "tomorrow", "next week", "next month", "this year". It can't be "today".

Additionally, I don't work or talk or message 1 hour before bedtime.

Additionally, I implemented all advice from CBT-I. It took few months to develop a habit, and I'm feeling better every day now.

The "mind racing" is itself the main problem you need to fix, and lavender drops (or any kind of harmless physical remedy) won't do that.

What has worked well for me is to deliberately focus my mind on simple, pleasant topics instead of negative, annoying ones. That time at work when I solved a difficult problem. Dream vacation plans. The great view at the end of a long hike.

I'm aware this may not be easy (or possible) for everyone to do.

Reading calculus proofs always did it for me :-) But more seriously this is very nearly a meditation technique (except when meditating you don't try to actually go to sleep). But start at one end of your body and try to tense the muscles there then relax them (you won't be able to feel they are relaxed if you haven't tensed them first, if they are already tense you will feel them relax, but it is the transition from tense to relaxed that you feel) then move up the body to the other end until you've relaxed every muscle you feel you have voluntary control over, keep you eyes closed and if images come move them away or imagine a black curtain coming down to cover them, "listen" for your voice saying something of two syllables (doesn't really matter what it is) over and over (forces internal dialog to stop).

In my experience if you do this and you can sleep (like your not full of caffeine or something) you will.

What you mention is similar to yoga nidra. I found this helpful when I want to meditate and relax. All you need to do is to lie down (or sit in the office), close your eyes and listen to the voice' instructions. I feel very refreshed after but sometimes I fell asleep when tired.



I used to struggle with sleep as well. Infact, I thought that it wasn't natural to be awake while lying on bed in the dark. Then I noticed a pattern. It was that I would always fall asleep within 10-15 minutes of lying in bed, only if I didn't worry about when the sleep would come.

From then on, I have just let go. I let my mind wander wherever it wants to go. And without fail, sleep always catches up within 10-15 minutes.

Of course, it helps if you are tired from the days work and haven't had a very heavy dinner.

Old stackoverflow thread on this here:


This caught on after being published on the "Art of Manliness" blog. It seems that there is no factual evidence that this study took place.

I'm not convinced its a military trick rather something forced by necessity. I used to be a terrible sleeper, it usually took an hour to fall asleep and would regularly wake for multiple 30-40 min periods during the night and wake up exhausted.

We're now on baby no.2 and I can fall asleep in a few minutes any time from 6pm on. Just close my eyes and expect sleep and it comes. 10 minute power naps are great.

The ability to fall asleep quickly was forced on me by baby no.1, being woken up multiple times per night and having to fall asleep quickly was a matter of what felt like survival. I'm sure military training causes the same exhaustion and the body learns that it needs to be able to sleep when it can. I'm also sure that sleeping to 12 or 1 on the weekends to recover is detrimental, getting to sleep on a Sunday night was the worst as would not be tired but it would start the week on a the wrong foot.

Any other parents in here have the same experience?

This rings true for me - I had difficulty getting to sleep until I joined the military. Once I had to be able to get sleep where and when I could I learned how.

I have similar sleep powers after a thru hike (14-16 hours of exercise daily for months at a time, filthy, sometimes soaked, sleeping on inch of foam).

My SO will accidentally wake me up regularly, even have words with me, and then i'll be gone again in 10 seconds. I never remember any of these.

I can also stay up for way too long without feeling much discomfort.

I used to have a terrible time falling asleep. At some point I stumbled on the technique of just "breathing like I'm sleeping" or just acting asleep based on memories of the ultra-relaxed state I was in just after waking. Probably some combination of the relaxed breathing and mental focus on breathing make it work. The real beauty of it is that now years later I can fall asleep anywhere in 3-5 minutes if I'm even slightly tired even without having to consciously think about this technique anymore.

> A secret military technique that is said to help anyone fall asleep in just two minutes has recently been revealed.


> The secret is detailed in the book Relax and Win: Championship Performance, which although first published in 1981

I guess 37 years is "just" for the author.

I think you mean "recently". It didn't take 37 years to fall asleep!


This is good stuff.

But for fighter pilots and such, who are sometimes on call 24/7, the use of "go pills" (formerly methamphetamine, and now modafinil) and "no-go pills" (such as zaleplon and zolpidem) is quite common. But then, no-go pills aren't so great, because it takes hours for effects to wear off. So modafinil plus relaxation training seems like a great solution. I can say from personal experience that modafinil doesn't prevent sleep.

> I can say from personal experience that modafinil doesn't prevent sleep.

These effects on sleep are highly dependent on genetics. They couldn't test this stuff much longer than a decade ago.

The difference is large enough that it could potentially improve certain stages of sleep in some individuals. Contrast to caffiene which is detrimental to sleep quality across the board.

Yeah modafinil is a weird one, it just feels to me like I've had 4 or 5 coffees, but can sleep alright in the evening. I find it makes me grumpy if I get interrupted though so it can make working on some teams harder.

I get irritable if I take more than 100 mg per day. But then, I've always been short-tempered.

Trying to think "don't think, don't think, don't think" seems like it would stress me out.

I prefer to count 10 slow breaths as a way to clear my mind. I get my body comfortable similar to how the article describes, then I take 10 long slow breaths while focusing only on what number breath I'm on. That seems to be the right amount to knock my internal monologue off of whatever it's been ruminating on so I can fall asleep. Sometimes I don't even make it to 10 -- which is remarkable after a lifetime of insomnia.

Certainly not new. I learned this technique from a self hypnosis book in the early 1980s. It does work. My mental recitation is "One. One. One. One…" I used to use this for naps but found I wasn't as rested than natural sleep for a quick nap. I now use it only when I need a full night's sleep. The quality of sleep doesn't seem to be affected for full nights the way it was for naps.

I purchased this book a few months ago after reading about it elsewhere. The book is not worth purchase, the article contains everything you need. The book has a lot of anecdotal tales of athletic relaxation leading to victory (though given the author was one of the greatest coaches of all time, his anecdotes have weight). It has absolutely improved my sleep, and I've been insomniac since a car wreck 11 years ago. You have to do the work though. You can't try it once and claim that "It doesn't work for me." It is a skill for those that don't have it naturally, and thus you have to practice. Thr original cohort of aviators that learned this method in ww2 practiced at least twice a day for 6 weeks straight. If you don't have 42 days straight of doing it, don't complain that it won't work for you.

Same exact experience - the book has only one related chapter, and that's paraphrased in the "Art of Manliness" blog. My concern is that I found NO evidence that this program ever took place. I dunno about the technique working.

Additionally these kinds of techniques are strong positive feedback loops.

When I started caring about sleep (instead of a neverending jetlag lifestyle) I started to sense sleep cycles more vividly, and didn't delay going to bed, and instead of worrying I was just rushing to relax and enjoy highly probable deep and long sleep.

Bah. I have two kids. I am so overloaded most of the time that I can sleep anywhere anytime within seconds!

I usually just let my mind adrift, imagining all kinds of crazy bizarre things and worlds, and fall asleep. Trying to focus on "don't think" actually did the opposite for me - instead of falling asleep it made me focus on all the weird things my mind kept creating.

Imagine yourself chanting "don't think" in your head while your mind creates a room, a wooden chair for you to sit on, shadows, light, a window, and the sky and the sea is upside-down outside the window, and walking on the sky is considered normal in this world. Normally I'd be falling asleep in that bizarre world but I kept chanting "don't think" instead. Absolutely useless.

The basis of this technique are progressive muscle relaxation plus visual concentration.

I learned this using techniques you can do to have lucid dreams. When your concentration is not the best one in the day, the result is sleep.

Here is the summary:

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.

I know I am days late, but the submitted page is horrible and 'stolen'. They even reference (but of course don't link) a leaner page as their source: https://www.joe.co.uk/news/sleeping-tricks-197402

That site has less sensationalism (not calling it secret for a start, yuck) and less ad crap.

independent.co.uk article is a reblog (+ video/ad junk) of https://www.joe.co.uk/news/sleeping-tricks-197402 (who copied it from a book)

Mods might change the link, for better reader experience and respect for the more-original bloggers.


I am sad this wasn't seen when the story was still fresh.

The true military technique for falling asleep easily is to march 15 miles carrying a 100lb rucksack first

I discovered similar techniques because I realized that I was wasting too much time trying to fall asleep. But I think I can summarize it better:

1. If any of your muscles are tensed, recognize it and untense them!

2. Purge all distracting thoughts. The easiest way to do this is imagine that you're unburdened by human concerns. Imagine that you're an immortal being floating through space, or sinking into the ocean, or floating on it.

Personal hobby projects &/or learning things before I go to sleep. I find it hard to sleep unless I meet this quota everyday.

Second, sometimes I'll read math and/or nonfiction books. Those are never too exciting like fiction, so I end up falling asleep fairly consistently

Third, not doing work or using phone in bed.

Fourth - associating different postures with different conditional training. When I'm sitting or standing I'm almost always doing something productive. I sleep on my left side, so this is the cue to tell my brain to go to bed. I strictly enforce these disciplines, and will have never have my phone out when in this sleeping position

Fifth, using flux to have warmer color temps / less blue light on monitors before going to bed

Sixth, bedjet and bodypillow do wonders on aiding in sleep

Seventh, working out every 3 days or less helps me fall asleep. When I hit an awful sleep cycle, I do a 40 minute run that day to reset my body fatigue.

I've found delaying my sleep habit is very easy, just stay up late, yet the reverse is super hard and easily lapses.

It's easier to go earlier to sleep if you wake up very early. Don't delay your wake up time and you're more tired in the evening. Also don't spend the night with activities that keep you awake. Just watch a movie/series or something or read a book. Usually makes me tired.

FYI: Skip the video. The video does not address the article subject; it's man-on-the-street nonsense.

Listening to an audio book on some scientific topic will almost always put to sleep within 15 minute. I really like books on cognitive science - I have used books by Daniel Dennet and Dean Buonomano for this purpose. I not only learn interesting things, but I get to relax very quickly.

For everyone suggesting to imagine a black void - try imagining the reverse. Try imagining blinding white space, like looking at the surface of the sun, up close.

This is much harder to do, it requires more concentration and for that reason it works faster and more reliably.

I think the 12+ hour days is what helps people in the military fall asleep so quickly.

The military technique for falling asleep at any available time is pretty easy. Do you want to hear it? I won't even charge you. Here you go:

Do lots of hard physical labor, and get inadequate sleep at night.

I know this is crazy, but it works! Try it!

A version of this I heard in Russia is similar. But they also suggest to open the mouth to ensure relaxation of face muscles and roll up one's eyes. The latter moves eyes to their position during sleep.

I almost always fall asleep within two minutes after going to bed. For some period I used a breathing technique, where I would breath deeply for some 20 seconds, and then just hold my breath and fall asleep.

I used to have insomnia in college because of stress. To this day, the night before any high pressure event like an on-site interview or exam, I only manage to get a few hours of sleep. I think I was somehow traumatized by college that now this happens all the time without fail. Before college, I could always just sleep, but I was never stressed before college. It's not even the military, it's just a test, but it still happens since the outcome of that one day could very well shape the next few years of my life.

If you suffer from alcohol withdrawal (NOT actual delirium, that shit is deadly dangerous) try popping valerian for few nights.

Also podcasts work amazingly well, just make aure they are around 10 minutes long.

I know a lot of people are different, but personally having someone talking is for me foolproof method to stay awake. Weird stuff really.

I have been listening to podcasts while falling asleep for years now, it has worked very well for me. It is just a little annoying to find one with a very consistent volume, so I can set the volume on my laptop to that goldilocks zone where I can understand everything without having to focus too much, while it is still quiet enough to let me sleep.(Astronomycast.com works wonders for me.)

I've had good success with the Sleep With Me podcast for this. https://www.sleepwithmepodcast.com

Thank you, I am going to give that a try! As if I could resist a virtual/fictitious candlelight dinner with Captain Picard! :)

I use valerian on occasion when I'm having trouble sleeping for any variety of reasons. I find it's reasonably effective at helping me get to sleep, sort of like a mild benzo, but the dreams I get when I've taken valerian are weird as hell, often weird enough to wake me during the night.

Not suffering from alcohol withdrawel, but I listen to MP3s of tv shows I know inside-out; works really well for me. I cannot sleep when it's silent.

Bob Ross episodes!

I thought this was already posted, but I had read this longer article with more context, including the original text from the book that is short and written in a fun, old-timey style:


For me, none of the imagination techniques work, but mindfulness meditation - simply focusing on my breathing - does the trick.

Sounds suspiciously like a technique I saw on Sesame Street as a toddler. I'm 42 now and I still use it.

In the episode, Big Bird (I think) would say goodnight to each of his body parts...so "Goodnight toes, goodnight foot, goodnight leg, goodnight knees" and so on.

I think what ends up happening as you say goodnight to each body part, you subconsciously "relax" them, so to speak. And by the time you get to your upper torso...you're pretty much drowsy enough to nod off.

While I do find these techniques effective, it's important to keep the military's step zero in mind: be sleep-deprived.

In the military, especially at operational tempos (eg. during conflicts), you're constantly doing stuff (except when you're not and you're cat-napping on a pile of duffel bags or other equipment) and you're normally sleep-deprived.

This of course helps you fall asleep.

When I was in the military sleep deprivation worked wonders on falling asleep. Could sleep anywhere. The hood of a humvee was my preferred spot.

This kind of practice is at least as early as yoga: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavasana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_nidra

> You say “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” to yourself over and over for about 10 seconds.

I do this pretty much every night. Instead of 10 seconds I just do it until my thoughts start getting weird and not making sense. Usually when that’s happening I’m starting to fall asleep.

A lot of the comments here are about imagining blackness. Lately, I’ve been contemplating the infinite thinness of mathematical planes. I mostly do it when I try to sleep; maybe that’s a key; letting the brain associate certain thought patterns with going to sleep.

I throw an audiobook on that I've listened to many times before, its enough to distract my brain from solving problems of the day, but not enough that I'm listening intently to see what happens. Tend to fall asleep within 15 mins with it.

I can also recommend white noise machines: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-white-noise-machine/

if you have a google home, just ask for white noise!

I have to give it a go. I am horrible at being able to fall asleep even after long tiring days. I typically get only about 4 to 5hrs of decent sleep on average. That said, I do wake up refreshed. At least I think I do.

I think about the distortion of spacetime caused by gravity and the fact that it distorts the path of EM waves and the reciprocal distortion of gravity caused by EM fields.

I wonder what that popular book Why We Sleep would say about this, and the other suggestions here in the comments. I guess I'll have to read it to find out.

I read this a few weeks ago and have tried it a few times and think it works but I can never remember if I fell asleep the next morning.


> Here’s how to do it:

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

2. Drop your shoulders as far down as they’ll go, followed by your upper and lower arm, one side at a time

3. Breathe out, relaxing your chest followed by your legs, starting from the thighs and working down

4. 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.

Noisli has "Fireplace" sound, it makes me fall asleep in under 2 minutes even if I am extremely anxious.

my wife complains that I am able to fall asleep immediately whereas it always takes her a long time and if she gets woken up too close to morning that's it. maybe this will help her.

anyway my secret is just to close my eyes and not think about anything but looking deeper into the darkness and breathing slowly.

I guess that a good amount of physical fatigue also helps a lot. There was also a joke about it somewhere.

I was in the USMC for 20 years... never once had a problem falling asleep.

In Humvees, in the dirt, on a stack of rifles...

The lesson here is, do tons of shit if you want to sleep well, not that parent is a boss.

I rather need technique for wake up in two mintues (two quaters will be fine, too).

Wow, that is one blaringly annoying web site. Too much stuff going on!

This is nothing new.. called yoga nidra.. excellent for falling asleep.

guided yoga nidra audios examples here: http://www.swamij.com/Meditations.htm

Worked last night!

All these techniques always come down to a form of meditation.

THe common ingredient is:

* an actual EFFORT and DISCIPLINE, ie. a will, a decision, a commitment to stop following the monkey mind going on about tomorrow and all its good/bad things, and "me" and everything about me.

* attention is on the body, the body has always been a key focal point to calm the mind in most meditation techniques (sometime it's external like watching a candle.. but we want to fall asleep here)

* it takes some practice, particularly that in bed and lying down, the mind will more easily lose focus.. this is why most meditation practices take place in the classic sitting posture

I use Vipassana, very similar:

- I lie down on my BACK.. I think it's helpful to have a "cue" to signal the commitement. Usually I don't fall asleep on my back but when I feel more relaxed and quiet eventually I roll to the side and fall asleep not long after

- Move attention from head to toes, it can help to keep ahold of the mind, to mentally label "head (or break it down: forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, ...) , neck, shoulder girdle, upper chest, solar plexus, tummy, waist, upper thighs, knees, " (etc)

Typically I'll do 2-3 passes up > down and back up.

When putting to much strain, it can keep you awake.

But here is a KEY thing that this article doesn't mention and you may verify by yourself over time.

When I started, I was worried that staying awake I would lose sleep. Of course this gets into a spiral, since we're trying to relax the mind.

However over time you realize, if you have some energy left and you don't fall asleep, maybe you woke up too late today. That's OK. You'll find out that if you COMPLETELY let go of any control of the body, try to be completely STILL.. you'll notice that it does actually rest the body to some extent. So if somehow you don't fall asleep you can just keep doing this technique for 30 min, even an hour. Then maybe the clock says only 6 hours left, and next day you'll find you're doing fine, not yawning, like you had your 7 hours of sleep.

So the key here, once subtler point those techniques don't talk about, is that if you make an effort to completely relax control of the body, you do get rest even as you are still awake and aware.

One issue you can run into when trying to be completely and entirely still and release total control of the body is that you can get "fidgeting legs" syndrome or whatever it's called. People believe this is a problem and go to the doctor for it. While it's symptomatic of something going in the body, maybe it's not a problem. It's actually interesting... if you can stay still even in the face of those unpleasant electric / buzzing sensations in the legs... and you completely let go no matter what.. eventually you may have a very pleasant sensation where it feels like suddenly the tension diffuses through the body. It feels like some current was stuck, and now it's flowing. You may even get very pleasant (fine) tingly sensations. I don't really want to geti nto what this means here and I'm experimenting myself, not on expert on this subject... But it's definitely worth investigating. As with many things involving body/mind you're on your own. The doctors talk a different language, they'll see a "restless legs" syndrome (though they admittedly have no cause for it). With all that said, I'm not saying it's easy and it takes practice too. But if you take time to fall asleep it's something to do, and it's very curious... you get to experiment first hand with mind and body interaction and a subtler aspect of the nervous system.

Okay, so what's the secret military method for curing hiccups?

Drink a mouthful of vinegar, in one go. The reflex defibrilates the diaphragm.

I used to a sachet of vinegar in my daypack for that reason and it had 100% success with colleagues.

That's quite drastic. If you don't like the taste of pure vinegar here's my method. I inhale all the way, then while holding my breath drink a glass of water. Doesn't that work for everyone?


Please don't do this here.

5 yeara in military - bullshit

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