The Military Sleep Method Is Making The Rounds On TikTok, But Does It Work?

We've all been there — even after a long day, you might lay your head down on your pillow at night, only to experience difficulty falling asleep. Whether you spend hours trying to get shut-eye every evening or you hardly sleep at all, suffering through exhaustion is no way to live. However, TikTok creators may have stumbled upon a method of sleeping that could change the way you rest.

If sleep regularly eludes you, you aren't alone — as of 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that a significant number of working adults in the U.S. sleep an average of fewer than seven hours per night. This is despite the fact that adults require more than seven hours of sleep per night, and getting less can increase the risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to depression, per the CDC.

Luckily, there is a wide array of tips and tricks you can try to get back to sleeping soundly through the night. The "military sleep method" — although far from new — is one that is making the rounds on TikTok as more people look for quicker ways to drift off to dreamland. The U.S. Army reports that the method worked for 96% of people who tried it over six weeks, but while it may work for some, one solution doesn't always work for everyone — especially when it comes to sleep and our health.

What is the military sleep method?

Although social media influencers might just be finding out about it, the military sleep method has actually been around since 1981. Author Lloyd Bud Winter first mentioned the tactic in his book, "Relax and Win: Championship Performance." He noted that the U.S. Army created the system to help soldiers fall asleep faster and get the rest they needed to reduce the potential for mistakes.

The technique is relatively simple and begins with you sitting on the edge of your bed, primed and ready for sleeping. To start, tighten your facial muscles, and then allow them to naturally loosen into a relaxed position. Slowly, allow your shoulders to fall and arms to dangle as gravity pulls them toward the ground. Breathe in and out slowly, letting your chest relax in the process. Just as you did with your arms and shoulders, allow gravity to gently pull your thighs and lower legs down, releasing any tension. Once your body is at ease, you can begin to clear your mind of any stressful thoughts. If you can, try to visualize a calming scenario to relax even further. In the event that you can't create this type of picture in your mind, simply repeat the words, "Don't think," for 10 seconds.

When you're ready, you can lie down in your bed, and if all goes according to plan, you should be asleep within minutes.

Why can't I seem to get any sleep?

TikTok user @Justin_Agustin went viral when he posted a video, detailing how to use the military sleep method to immediately fall asleep, and it has since been shared more than 127,000 times — but as you may already know if you have sleep problems, there isn't always a quick fix. This can especially be the case if you have underlying conditions that are keeping you up at night, such as anxiety, which may require treatment.

Some of your sleep issues may also have solutions that are simpler than you realize. For instance, exposing yourself to bright light before bedtime can limit melatonin production, which is essential for that "sleepy" feeling you need to get some shut-eye. Ideally, you should give yourself plenty of time to wind down before you attempt to sleep, eliminating the use of electronics (including your phone and television) to help your mind relax. If sleep problems are ongoing for you, don't hesitate to contact your doctor. They can help you identify any underlying medical causes and provide you with the treatment you need to feel well-rested.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.