How to Get to Sleep in 5 Minutes or Less
Millions of people suffer from insomnia in one form or another. It may be a chronic issue for some, while others experience it less frequently. Along with difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early, the inability to fall asleep is a common problem for insomniacs.
The sleeping problems insomniacs experience eventually lead to symptoms such as daytime tiredness, irritability, anxiety, and depression. If you have trouble nodding off or sleeping through the night, you may also find that it is harder for you to focus on tasks or remember things.
Common causes of insomnia
According to the Mayo Clinic, “insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other conditions.”1 If you suffer from insomnia, one or more of the following causes is likely to blame:
- Poor sleep habits
- Poor diet
- Not enough exercise
- Eating too much too late
- Inconsistent schedule
- Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
- Sleep-related disorder
- Mental disorder
- Medical issue
- Environmental factors
Many of the above issues can be difficult to address or resolve. But luckily, there are a few different hacks you can try to get some shut-eye quickly. These hacks can be helpful right before you go to bed, or if you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep.
The best part? They can help you get to sleep in as little as 5 minutes. And the faster you can get to sleep, the more sleep you will get!
1. The 4-7-8 method
Renowned integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil developed a breathing technique that has helped many people get to sleep in just a few minutes. This technique isn’t just good for sleep, but can also help you manage stress and achieve relaxation in other situations.
Getting to sleep with this method is accomplished in 5 quick and easy steps. As you do these steps, make sure to keep the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper front teeth for maximum effect.
- Exhale fully through your mouth, making a whoosh
- Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose to a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Make a whooshing sound as you exhale through your mouth completely for a count of 8.
- Repeat the previous steps 3 more times.
Though you can do this exercise lying down, it can be particularly effective when you do it sitting up with your back straight. For the best of both worlds, you can try it sitting, and then lay down and do it again before heading to dreamland.
2. The US Navy trick
A sleeping trick courtesy of the US Navy may be able to get you to doze off in only 2 minutes. The Navy tested the effectiveness of this method on pilots in their pre-flight school. What they found was that 96% of subjects were able to get to sleep in a couple of minutes after 6 weeks.2
Sound too good to be true? Try it for yourself by following these 5 steps:
- Lying face-up in bed, relax all the muscles in your face. This includes your jaw, tongue, and eye muscles. Focus on your forehead until it feels smooth with no tension. Also focus on making your eye sockets relax and go limp.
- Move your shoulders as low as you can to relieve neck tension. Next, relax one of your upper and lower arms. Then, switch to the other arm. You can also try tensing your arms for a few seconds and relaxing them to loosen up if you still feel tense. Afterwards, do the same thing with your hands and fingers.
- Relax your chest, and fill your lungs up with air.
- Relax and release the tension in your thighs. Let this relaxation travel down to your calves, then to your feet an ankles.
- Now that your muscles are relaxed, clear your thoughts by focusing on relaxing imagery. For example:
- Imagine you are lying in a canoe on a calm lake, with nothing but clear sky above.
- Imagine you are snuggled up in a hammock in a completely dark room
If these images don’t work, repeat to yourself the words, “Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” repeatedly for 10 seconds.
3. Guided hypnosis
Hypnotherapy has been shown to offer a number of health benefits, including helping with sleep disorders. Hypnotism can not only help you hit the hay, but can also improve the quality of your sleep.3 The best part is that you don’t have to hire a professional to get hypnotized. You can accomplish similar results using a hypnosis app, video, or recording.
A hypnosis app or video may use visual cues along with audio to help you turn in faster as well as achieve deeper sleep. There are also many audiobooks out there that promise to do the same. It may take some trial and error to find a recording that helps you get to sleep quickly. Additionally, keep in mind that hypnosis doesn’t work for everyone.
4. Guided meditation
Another option if you’re wondering how to get to sleep in 5 minutes or less is guided meditation. Similar to hypnosis, there are several options out there for guided meditation and relaxation. The Relax Melodies app, for example, offers over 100 relaxing sounds, including white noise, melodies, and binaural beats. It also has guided meditations to enhance sleep. Sleep Genius is another app that uses sounds to help you fall asleep faster and sleep through the night.
Other guided sleep meditations are available, and many of them are free. This guided sleep meditation from Deepak Chopra, for instance, is only 4 minutes long and can help you enter a peaceful slumber.
Other tips to fall asleep in 5 minutes
Whether you try the 4-7-8 method, the US Navy trick, or guided hypnosis or meditation, your results can be enhanced by following these tips:
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room
- Reduce exposure to blue light
- Get enough sun exposure during the day
- Sleep and wake at consistent times
- Avoid caffeine late in the day
- Don’t eat before bed
Another piece of advice is to turn off your digital devices two hours before you go to bed. In this case, you would want to use the 4-7-8 method or the US Navy trick rather than using an app or video, as your proximity to your cell phone and whether it is on or off may also negatively affect your sleep.
You may want to consult with your practitioner to determine if a sleep disorder is the cause of your insomnia. Additionally, you can scan for sleep and sleep-related digital signatures using ZYTO technology to help you better support a restful, restorative repose.
1. “Insomnia.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayoclinic.org.
2. Winter, Lloyd Bud. Relax and Win: Championship Performance (Oak Tree Pubns, 1981).
3. Cordi, M.J., A.A. Schlarb, & B. Rasch. “Deepening Sleep by Hypnotic Suggestion.” Sleep 37, no. 6 (2014): 1143-1152.