Getting more sleep is important. According to one 2018 study, persons who sleep for five to six hours per night are 19% less productive than people who rest for seven to eight hours per night, while people who nod off for fewer than five hours are approximately 30% less productive.
They are, indeed, more awake. However, they accomplish less.
Perhaps this is because previous studies indicate that simply having six hours of nodding off makes any work that involves attention, deep thought, or problem-solving far more difficult. In reality, in terms of attention and response time, sleeping six hours is equivalent to drinking a couple of beers, while nodding off for four hours is equivalent to drinking five beers.
Another study indicates that sleep deprivation makes it harder to complete any activity that takes numerous steps, which is pretty much anything you try to accomplish.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, another study found that a lack of sleep increases activity in your brain’s reward areas related to eating. A bad diet leads to a lack of rest, which regrettably leads to an even inferior diet. (Yay.)
So, certainly, most individuals are aware that they require more sleep.
But what if you have trouble falling asleep?
Consider using the Military Method
An Easier Way to Fall Asleep
Lloyd Bud Winter’s 2012 book Relax and Win: Championship Performance recounts a regimen developed by the Navy Pre-Flight School to assist pilots to fall asleep.
Six weeks later, 96 per cent of the pilots could fall asleep in two minutes or less while sitting in a chair, listening to a machine-gun fire recording, or drinking coffee.
Here’s how it’s done:
Relax your whole face.
Close your eyes for a moment. Slowly and thoroughly inhale. Then, gradually relax all of your facial muscles. (If it helps, begin with the muscles in your forehead and work your way down.) Relax your jaw, cheeks, mouth, tongue, and everything else. Let go of everything, including your sight.
Reduce the size of your shoulders and hands.
Let any tension go. Relax your neck and traps, and drop into your chair or bed. Then, beginning at the top of your right arm, relax your biceps, forearms, and hands. Rep on the opposite side. Remember to keep breathing gently and deeply.
Exhale and let your chest relax.
That should be simple with your shoulders and arms relaxed.
Allow your legs to relax. Begin with your right thigh and sink it into the chair or bed. Then repeat for your calf, ankle, and foot. Then repeat with your left leg.
Clear your mind now.
To be sure, it’s difficult not to think about anything. (I end up thinking about not thinking about anything.) If it describes you, try visualising something. Select something soothing. Consider yourself lying peacefully in the dark. But what if that doesn’t work?
Repeat the phrase “Don’t think” for 10 seconds.
If nothing else, it should divert you from worrying about whatever it is that is keeping you awake.
Remember that practice is the key.
The Military Method may not help you fall asleep quickly at first, but the more you apply it, the better you’ll learn to relax. And then let go.
Which is how we all fall asleep, whether we are “trying” or not.
So why not get the ball rolling?