WWII-era military sleep method could help insomniacs nod off quickly, some claim: 'Peace and calm'

A method used by the U.S. military in World War II could be an effective way to cure insomnia, some people claim — and sleep experts agree, with some conditions.

The strategy, known as the "military sleep technique," reportedly has helped people fall asleep in less than five minutes.

It was originally detailed in Lloyd Bud-Winter's book, "Relax and Win: Championship Performance," published in 1981. 

An American track and field coach, Bud-Winter wrote in his book that he spoke with U.S. Navy pilots about the method they used to relax and fall asleep within two minutes, even under very high-stress conditions.

In a recent viral TikTok, user "mindbrainbodylab" described the process as follows: "Imagine a scanner going down your entire body, starting at the very top." 

"Relax every muscle in your face first, including your cheeks and your tongue," he said. 

"Unclench your jaw and take slow, deep breaths." 

Next, the would-be sleeper should focus on relaxing the muscles in the shoulders, arms and hands, "imagining every single piece and muscle of [the body] relaxing," said mindbrainbodylab. 

"It's super important that you continue to deep-breathe for this to work," he added.

The person should then relax the chest and stomach, all while taking deep breaths — and then relax the right and left legs. 

"Now that you've let go of tension in your body, it's time to do the same with your mind," said mindbrainbodylab. 

Next, the poster said, "Imagine you're getting more and more relaxed as you're [lying] there in peace and calm."

"Usually, I'm asleep before I get to my legs," he said. 

Alex Dimitriu, M.D., founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in California, told Fox News Digital that there is some legitimacy to the claims in the TikTok video.

"This method of falling asleep can certainly be helpful," said Dimitriu, who is certified in both psychiatry and sleep medicine. 

"Muscle relaxation going down the body, along with a focus on deep breathing, can both be an effective way to increase relaxation and reduce thinking," he continued. 

"It works even better with the final steps, which focus on increasing visualization and clearing the mind of thought." 

Visualization has been shown in studies to be better than other time-tested sleep techniques, such as counting sheep, Dimitriu noted.

"The belief here is that sleep and dreams are a very visual activity, and the way to get into dreaming is to actually start the visualization process as you are falling asleep," he said. 

Dr. Shelby Harris, director of sleep health for the website Sleepopolis and a licensed clinical psychologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, agreed with Dimitriu, but cautioned that this method may not work as effectively as the TikTok user claims.

"The technique described in the video can be a great way to relax your mind and body before bed, especially for those who have trouble winding down at night," Harris told Fox News Digital.

While feeling calm may help someone fall asleep quicker, "there’s no simple ‘hack’ for better sleep. While this technique may help some, it’s not going to help everyone," she said. 

"There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that the military sleep method is effective in helping people fall asleep in two minutes, but there is evidence to suggest that relaxation techniques, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing, can be helpful for improving sleep quality and quantity," Harris noted. 

For those who may have tried the military sleep method without success, Dimitriu suggested adjusting the pre-bedtime routine to better facilitate slumber.

"Try to slow down before actually turning out the lights," he recommended — adding that he tells his patients to turn off all technology at 10 p.m. 

"Another important factor is what to do if you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes — the answer is to stop trying," he said. 

"I recommend people keep a physical book, or a Kindle (set very dim), and either read something while relaxing in bed, or get out of bed and read in another dimly lit room until sleepy," said Dimitriu. 

Harris also advised that people follow a regular sleep schedule along with having a relaxing bedtime routine.

Daytime meditation can also help people sleep better at night, noted Dimitriu. 

Doing this for just 10 minutes a day can serve as a "superpower" to help with sleep, he said.