This is a very useful skill: how to fall asleep anywhere, in only two (2) minutes time or less.
This helps me currently to recover from a major jet lag, 7 hours time difference between Europe and Singapore: whenever I feel tired or even sleepy, I get to a somewhat quieter place and deliberately fall asleep for 30 minutes or an hour. After that, I have a glass of cold water, and I am good to go again.
It also helps me to fall asleep when I find myself awake in bed because I worry so much about the troubles of the day. This gives me an extra hour or two of full sleep, and I always wake up with a renewed mind, because I did not circle the whole night around the same problem.
How It Works
The trick consists of sitting in a stable position, at least leaning against something. This “something” could be the backrest of your office chair, a fixed spare tire on the cargo bay of a moving truck, or simply your usual bed.
Once I have made sure that my body does not fall when I am asleep, I start relaxing the muscles in my body from head to toe, in a very systematic way.
If I realize that I have left out one muscle on the way down from head to my toes will impair the result, and I start again, relaxing the head muscles.
These are the main steps for me:
Step 1: I start by relaxing every muscle in my face, one-by-one, moving down from my forehead to my jaw.
Step 2: I drop my head left or right on my chest, by relaxing the neck muscles, making sure that I can still breathe in that relaxed state.
Step 3: I drop my shoulders one at a time, relaxing each as much as possible. Then, do the same with my upper and lower arms. I try to feel the weight of my arms pulling me down.
Step 4: This step is about inhaling and exhaling deeply. I use this wave of movement to consciously relaxing each muscle in my lower body. I try to feel the weight of my belly and of my legs pulling me down.
Step 5: Once I have reached my toes, I start thinking through every word of the Lord´s prayer. That gives me great peace, and usually, I don´t even reach the end.
The next thing that usually comes to my mind is that I wake up, for example, because I can feel my bladder reminding me to go to the bathroom.
Alternatives for Emptying your Mind
Not everyone does relate to thinking through the Lord´s prayer, as I do. US literature recommends emptying your mind by visualizing the following scenes: 1. Lying in a canoe on a lake staring up at a blue sky or 2. Lying on a black, velvet hammock in a dark room, or 3. by repeating “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think,” to yourself .
I also heard that some Yoga teachers are promoting this method, then with some religious chanting.
I found this method over and over described as being published first in a 1981 book “Relax and Win: Championship Performance” but this cannot be the original source. I learned to fall asleep in less than 2 minutes in the year 1984 in the German army, and it has been known there for a very long time. My guess is that this knowledge exists in the German army forever.
Some Training is Needed
You may need some training for using this method, and this is why the army is such a convenient place to learn it. We were told “Wenn der Soldat nicht kämpft, dann schläft oder isst er” (iterally “When the soldier does not fight then he is eating or sleeping”).
As army service is essentially either rushing to wait or waiting to rush, there was plenty of opportunities to practice this method to fall asleep.
Call to Action
Try it out yourself next time when you find yourself waiting for half an hour, or even tonight in bed. My guess is that you need about 20 or 30 repetitions until it works.
Martin “Fall Asleep Now” Schweiger