How to fall asleep in under 2, 5 or 15 minutes

Woman with arms in the air stretching on her bed with back to the camera as she wakes up from sleep
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If you are looking for ways to fall asleep quickly, look no further than these safe and effective methods that will help you get the speedy sleep you deserve. And while some of these tricks might not happen overnight (no pun intended), with a little practice you’ll be impressed with the results once you have mastered the techniques.

Falling asleep quickly doesn't happen for everyone. And while it takes the average adult around 15-20 minutes to drift off, if you suffer from insomnia, getting to sleep could take even longer. Meanwhile, falling asleep too quickly could also be a sign of fatigue.

The key is to find balance, so if you are looking for a healthy way to fall asleep in no time at all then read on to find out more about the Military Method, 4-7-8 Breathing and the Body Scan – all natural ways to help you on your way to sound sleep. Read on for a guide to how to fall asleep in 2, 5, or 15 minutes.

How to fall asleep fast: Getting prepped

But before you try any of these tips, let’s have a look at some other things you can do first to help you fall asleep quickly. As well as making sure your bedroom is optimized for sleep and you have the best mattress for your snoozing style, it's important to consider general sleep hygiene. One of the best ways to fall asleep quickly at nighttime is to look at your habits in the daytime. Try the following to help prepare the body for restful slumber:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even at the weekends)
  • Avoid looking at screens for up to two hours before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol or nicotine too close to bedtime
  • Have a warm bath in the evening to help relax the body
  • Make sure your room is dark enough and at the right temperature for sleep – 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius)
  • If you have anxieties or stress keeps you awake, consider getting support 

Then, when it comes to crunch time, your body should be as prepared as it can be for sleep. Read on for some tried-and-tested relaxation methods that can help you get to sleep fast.

How to fall asleep in 2 minutes: The Military Method

In his 1981 book, Relax and Win: Championship Performance, author and sprint coach Bud Winter highlighted The Military Method as a way to help people fall asleep faster. This technique is so-called because it was used by US soldiers, helping them fall asleep within just two minutes. 

Woman asleep wearing eye mask

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To try it for yourself, follow these simple steps:

1. Prepare

Find a comfortable position in bed and close your eyes. Breathe out slowly, trying to let go of any tension that you feel in your body. 

2. Relax

Begin by relaxing your forehead, then your eyes, then your jaw. Now move to your shoulders, then let the tension unwind down each arm. Gently extend this feeling to your abdomen and legs.

3. Visualize

When you are feeling ready, imagine you are lying on the bottom of a still canoe, upon a motionless pond. Now visualize a clear blue sky. If you prefer, you can imagine you are in a wide black hammock in the darkness. If either of these scenarios cause you anxiety, then simply repeat the words ‘don’t think’ for 10 seconds instead of visualizing.

How does the Military Method work? 

The visualization aspect of the Military Method is important here, as this is what helps calm the body’s stress response and helps focus the mind on a positive scenario, overriding any worries that might be keeping you awake.

While this technique needs to be practiced for a few weeks to be fully effective, you should start to feel relaxed after only a few nights.

How to fall asleep in 5 minutes: 4-7-8 breathing

4-7-8 Breathing was devised and researched by Dr Andrew Weil, M.D. – a “world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine”. Just like the Military Method, this technique requires a little bit of practice, but, once you’ve got it nailed, it is a truly effective tool when it comes to helping you drift off in less than five minutes. And, as an added bonus, it will also help you relax during the day if you feel anxious.

Meditating woman sat upright on bed bathed in light

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The technique is safe and simple to perform:

  1. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose, for the count of 4 seconds
  2. Now gently hold your breath for 7 seconds
  3. Then breathe out through your mouth for the count of 8, letting the breath whoosh out through pursed lips
  4. Repeat these steps for three more rounds

Practice throughout the day to help build up the effect of the technique at bedtime. Over the weeks, you may wish to increase the number of rounds you perform until you reach a maximum of eight times in one session.

How does 4-7-8 breathing work? 

Deep breathing is proven to trigger a relaxation response in the body. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Breathing method, which is based on an ancient yogic technique, provides an easy way for anyone to relax no matter where or when. The key to the 4-7-8 Method is practice, and the more regularly you perform the rounds, the more effective it will be if you want to use it to fall asleep quickly.

How to fall asleep in 15 minutes: The body scan

Much like the Military Method, the body scan sleep method helps relax the body to prepare it for sleep. However, the body scan is a slower and more thorough meditation technique.

As with our other tips, practicing regularly is important. And making sure you perform a body scan often will soon build up to help your mental wellbeing in general.

Man lying on his back on a yoga mat, eyes closed

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To perform a body scan, follow these steps:

1. Prepare 

Lie down in a comfortable position and bring your awareness to the top of your head. Now focus on the sensations, allowing any tension to pass, stay here until your head feels relaxed.

2. Scan

Next bring the same awareness to your face, holding the focus here until you feel any tension releasing.

When you feel ready, repeat holding awareness and releasing tension along your jaw, your neck, your shoulders. Then travel down the body to your right arm,  hand, and fingers, and then back up to travel down your left arm, hand, and fingers

Repeat the focus and relaxation along your back, and then your front torso, before traveling down each leg, foot, and toes.

3. Repeat if necessary

If you reach a full body scan from top to toe and are still awake then repeat the sequence until you drift off.

A whole round should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how slowly you move down the body.

How does the Body Scan meditation technique work? 

The idea with this technique is to bring plenty of awareness into the body, and while this might sound like it might keep you awake, the effects are precisely the opposite – focusing on tension and then slowing releasing it helps relax the body enough for you to get a great night’s sleep.

Grace Franks

Grace is an experienced sleep writer and mattress reviewer who also contributes to our sister site TechRadar, among other Future plc brands. She's a big fan of organic sleep products and has recently invested in a wool mattress topper that she quite happily describes as "life-changing." (Hey, we're serious about our sleep products). When she isn't testing mattresses or writing about sleep, Grace enjoys reading and creative writing, and incorporates meditation and yoga into her wellness routine.