A SLEEP expert has revealed whether hacks that claim to get you to sleep within five minutes or less will actually work.
Social media is awash with tips and tricks to help the most common sleep problem – not being able to get to sleep fast.
Counting sheep just doesn’t cut it for most people, who may lie awake for hours.
Dave Gibson, a sleep coach, is familiar with the troves of videos on platforms like TikTok that promise to hold the key to better sleep.
He gave a detailed analysis of whether the most viewed will actually work – and how to improve them.
Ten seconds to sleep – the military technique
With a staggering 11 million views, this military sleep hack was supposedly formulated by the United States Navy Pre-Flight School to help pilots fall asleep in two minutes or less.
It works by relaxing every part of your body, from your facial muscles all the way down to your toes.
Once your body is relaxed you need to clear your mind by thinking of a relaxing scene, or if that doesn’t work, repeating ‘don’t think’ for ten seconds.
Within ten seconds you should be asleep, it’s claimed.
Dave, of sleep wellness brand eve Sleep, said the technique makes sense to a certain extent, as relaxing the body helps you fall asleep.
“The technique advises using visualisation which tends to be a good way of focusing the mind away from the stresses of the day,” he said.
“However, if this isn’t working, the next piece of advice is to repeat the term ‘don’t think’, which won’t work for everyone.
“Why? Because switching off your mind and actively trying not to think can be difficult and isn’t something one can do with ease.
“The idea of repeating ‘don’t think’ also seems counterproductive, as by saying it, your mind will likely do the opposite due to the pressure of trying not to do it.”
As well as being counterproductive, Dave said the claim that this tip can work in ten seconds is a little too optimistic.
TRY INSTEAD: “If you do want to give this hack a try my top tip would be to adapt the technique by breathing out longer than breathing in, as it helps slow down the heart rate and relax the nervous system,” Dave said.
Five minutes to sleep – cognitive shuffling
This trend has a whopping 5.5 million views on TikTok and involves lying in bed and in your head naming as many random things as you can.
For example the words ‘chair, bird, blanket, shoes’ may pop into your head. The more random the better.
According to the highly viewed video, this hack should have you snoozing in under five minutes.
Dave said: “I would liken this tactic to the age old ‘counting sheep’. It is a mundane task that eventually tires your mind to the point it shuts off – thus you fall asleep.
“With this technique in particular, the action of selecting totally random words scrambles your mind, affecting its ability to fully make sense of things which should take the pressure off the need to fall asleep.
“Again, I do think this tactic can work, but under five minutes feels slightly optimistic.”
TRY INSTEAD: Dave said: “To take this technique one step further I’d recommend combining this sort of visualisation with one such as walking along a beach or in a forest and wondering what you will find.
“Using a memory, which you have of a relaxing place you have been to can be a great aid to this sort of ‘mind-fullness approach’.”
With around one million views, this hack involves thinking about staying awake, essentially challenging your initial thoughts around falling asleep, and is called paradoxical intention.
As you lay your head down at night, the one thing you are probably thinking about is falling asleep, but your goal with this hack becomes staying awake.
Dave said: “This is a really interesting hack, and is based on some research done in the UK.
“Those who kept their eyes open fell asleep faster than those who closed their eyes and try to get to sleep, or essentially pushing themselves to sleep when not tired enough.
“The essence here is that you are trying to ‘nod off’ allowing your eyelids to close naturally rather than force them shut.
“Once you have managed to switch your thinking from ‘falling asleep’ to ‘staying awake’ you will then need to allow your mind and body to relax as the pressure to fall asleep has been let go.”
Dave said he can see this tip working, but you risk staying up far later than you’d like.
“In this case, utilising a hack that is more likely to tire your mind will work better than telling yourself to stay awake.”
TRY INSTEAD: Dave said: “Outside of using any sleep hack the advice is to only go into your bedroom when you feel tired enough to sleep in the first place.
“There’s no point in lying awake in bed. This in fact makes it harder to sleep as your brain then associates your bed as somewhere you ‘stay awake’ rather than ‘nod off’.”
The Navy Seal 8-Minute sleep
The original Navy Seal 8-minute Nap video has hit a huge 8.5 million views.
All it entails is laying on the floor, with your legs elevated on a bed, sofa or any other raised surface, setting your alarm for eight to ten minutes and going to sleep.
According to the source, “you’ll wake up feeling like you’ve just slept for six hours”.
Dave said he was “extremely sceptical” of this hack because most people take at least eight minutes to fall asleep as it is.
“Equally, comparing the benefits of eight minutes of sleep versus six hours of night-time sleep is nonsense,” he said.
“Yes, some of your cognitive processes might feel sharper but the rest of the benefits of sleep such as rejuvenating your body, brain and immune system amongst others just won’t be there.
“Also, most of those who are able to even fall asleep quickly enough to get a nap in, in under eight minutes, are most likely sleep deprived in the first place.”
He urged those who suffer lower back pain to avoid elevating their legs because it can put too much pressure on the spine.
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