Having spent all of January and the beginning of February stuck once again in lockdown, it's understandable if you're struggling to get to sleep or having your shut-eye disrupted regularly. However, a US army military technique may just help you nod off.
The trick used by the US army was originally published in the book Relax and Win: Championship Performance back in 1981.
Given they often have to sleep outdoors a lot and on battlefields and such like it's a fair bet that if a soldier is able to fall asleep using this technique than you've got a strong chance of drifting off from it too.
In fact the technique is said to work for 96% of people who use it after six weeks of practice.
So what is it? It's simply following these steps:
- Relax the muscles in your face, including tongue, jaw and the muscles around the eyes
- Drop your shoulders as far down as they'll go, followed by your upper and lower arm, one side at a time
- Breathe out, relaxing your chest followed by your legs, starting from the thighs and working down
You should then spend 10 seconds trying to clear your mind before thinking about one of the three following images:
- You're lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but a clear blue sky above you
- You're lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room
- You say "don't think, don't think, don't think" to yourself over and over for about 10 seconds.
And that's it!
The NHS recommends the average person needs around eight hours of sleep per night in order to function.
A lack of sleep can make people more prone to a number of medical conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease - so it's in your best interests to try and get that good night's sleep, even if eight hours seems like a fanciful dream.
Talking of dreams, there's a chance that those of you who aren't failing to get to sleep in lockdown are still being disrupted by an increase in strange dreams.
That's often a sign of stress, as Courtney Bancroft - a New York-based psychologist - told Today last year.
"If you're experiencing higher levels of stress, your ability to let your guard down and sleep normally or deeply gets impaired" she explained, pointing out that an increase of chemicals like adrenaline and epinephrine in our brains can, even if activated in the day, still carry over into the night.
Avoiding stress is tough at the moment, but trying to get to sleep first can often be the real challenge - so give that military trick a try and take things from there.
"Your brain is trying to keep you alert, and this is where people might have difficulty falling asleep - or more intense stress dreams."
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