Under the Hood

This Sleep Hack Helped WWII US Pilots Sleep Within Seconds Even With Distractions

A number of recent scientific studies brought up the same warning that poor sleep could lead to poor health. But during the World War II, health was not the main concern for the U.S. government but how lack of sleep would affect the performance of aircraft pilots. 

Military officials realized that if fighter pilots did not get enough sleep, their decisions the next day could negatively affect missions, potentially killing their allies. 

To avoid any risk, the military called on Bud Winter, a college football coach, to develop a program that could help pilots get enough rest anytime and anywhere. Prior to his assignment, Winter created techniques that helped athletes relax and perform better under pressure, Business Insider reported.

Working with other experts, he developed a relaxation hack that enabled pilots to fall asleep within 120 seconds. During a six-week experiment, 96 percent of the participating pilots reported the technique was effective because they were able to sleep even with distractions like gunfire in the background, after drinking coffee or while sitting. 

Applying Winter’s Sleep Hack Today

If former military pilots effectively used the sleep technique during WWII, you can use it too. Here are the ways to relax and fall asleep in two minutes.

  • Pick a comfortable position
  • When you are in the office, on the train, bus or plane, or anywhere you cannot find a bed, try to get into the most comfortable position.
  • Relax your face. This step plays a key role in the sleep hack. Making your face fully relaxed will send a signal to your body that all is well, helping it reduce stress and think that it is safe to sleep. 
  • Close your eyes and relax the 43 muscles in your face, particularly the forehead, cheeks, tongue and jaw. Once you do this, you will start breathing naturally and slow until you fall asleep.
  • Check your shoulders. When we are stressed we commonly put most tension in our shoulders. Take a deep breath and drop your shoulders slowly, releasing any tension. Feel your arms get heavy and relax. Relaxing your legs would also help. 
  • Take 10 seconds to clear your mind
  • As you let your body forget stress, try to turn your brain off by clearing your mind or not thinking about anything. Having any thought before sleep can prompt involuntary movement in your body. 
  • Winter suggested that in 10 seconds, try to imagine any place where you can find peace, like a warm spring day, looking at the clear sky or a lake. 
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