How to Use the Navy SEAL Sleep Technique to Fall Asleep Quickly

Every day another viral hack appears that promises to change the quality of your life for the better. In the realm of sleep, one such hack that has been trending on TikTok all summer is the Navy SEAL sleep technique, originally shared by author, podcaster, and former Navy SEAL officer Jocko Willink. (will open in a new tab)and became even more popular thanks to lifestyle coach Nick Vitello. (will open in a new tab).

To better understand this daytime nap strategy, including what it includes, how effective it is, and how it differs from other popular sleep techniques such as the 4 7 8 sleep method and the war sleep method, we spoke with Po-Chang Hsu. M.D., Sleeping Ocean medical content expert and graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine.

Before we get into that, remember that sleep hacks can only help you. To give yourself a better chance of getting better sleep, it’s worth investing in the best mattress for your body type and preferred sleeping position.

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What is the fur seal sleep technique?

“The fur seal sleep technique is to lay your back on the floor at the edge of the bed, and then put your feet on the bed,” Dr. Xu begins. “It puts the sleeper in a Z-like position, but the knees stretch a little on the bed. The legs are raised at an angle of 90 to 120 degrees.

Also, it’s important to emphasize that the Navy SEAL sleep technique is actually for eight to ten minutes of short restorative sleep (rather than a full night’s rest) to keep you alert when you’re sleep deprived and time is short. “The military sleep manual recommends that commandos take breaks in combat for afternoon naps,” he explains.

Does the Navy SEAL sleep technique work?

While countless TikTok hacks have not received expert approval, this hack has received official approval from Dr. Xu. “This hack can help most people fall asleep in less than eight minutes,” he says. According to Dr. Xu, this unique resting position reduces venous pressure, “which would be a problem in the supine position.” [flat, but isn’t] in this position.”

He continues, “Elevating the legs above heart level makes it difficult for blood to be pumped to the legs, lowering blood pressure in the legs.” This redistribution of blood flow from your feet and legs to other parts of the body, such as the heart and brain, can promote relaxation and comfort, helping you fall asleep quickly.

Fur seal sleep technique: woman napping with her hands behind her head

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to Use the Navy SEAL Sleep Technique

“This technique is best used when there is too little time for sleep,” says Dr. Xu. “By practicing this eight-minute nap technique, many people report that they feel sufficiently rested that it feels like 6 hours of sleep.” [worth of] sleep.”

Moreover, this sleep technique is quite simple to use in practice. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie down so that your legs are above the level of your heart. (You can lie on the floor with your feet at the foot of the bed, on a couch or chair.)
  • Set an alarm for eight to ten minutes.
  • Close your eyes and wake up feeling more alert than before.
  • Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, developed the 4 7 8 sleep method, which he called “a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” It involves deep, rhythmic breathing that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in “rest and digest.” (will open in a new tab) mode (versus the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” stress response).

    “While the 4 7 8 sleep method focuses on breathing exercises and stress relief, the Navy SEAL sleep method does more,” says Dr. Xu. “It helps the body improve blood circulation and allows for some sleep or naps.” Again, he reiterates that the Navy SEAL sleep method is for daytime sleep, while the 4 7 8 method is ideal for nighttime use and helps you fall asleep faster.

    It is also worth noting that the 4 7 8 sleep method requires a longer time. You will need to repeat the breathing cycle three to four times twice a day, and it may take four to six weeks of regular practice before you notice any major changes. On the other hand, some people may find it easier to use the Navy SEAL hack on the first few tries.

    The military sleep method is another hack that was used on TikTok before the fur seal sleep method took off. “The War Sleep Method focuses on muscle relaxation,” Dr. Xu says, and includes consciously releasing tension in the body, calming visualizations, and internally repeating the words “don’t think” if your mind is wandering.

    The military sleep method is similar to the 4 7 8 sleep method in that both are designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Each one is also designed to help you fall asleep more quickly and soundly at night. On the other hand, the Navy SEAL sleep technique is a quick fix if you feel like you need to recharge during the day with REM sleep.

    “The fur seal sleep technique is an ideal hack for those who don’t have time to sleep, but it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a full night’s sleep,” explains Dr. Xu. It also warns against relying on it too often or as a substitute for a good night’s rest.

    “It’s like fast charging a battery designed to charge slowly. In the long term, this will greatly affect battery life,” says Dr. Hsu. In other words, while quick and intermittent recharges can help in the short term, it’s much better to invest in longer, more sustainable recharges in the form of a quality night’s rest.

    “Most of the sleep benefits are not achieved when the body is rapidly charged with Navy SEAL techniques,” he adds. “The brain and immune system are not completely rejuvenated,” that is, compared to a long, quality night’s rest.

    How to sleep better at night in addition to the Navy Sleep Technique: A woman with long hair sleeps soundly in bed

    (Image credit: Shutterstock)

    How to sleep better at night: quick tips

    While the Navy SEAL sleep technique can help you recuperate quickly if you feel sluggish during the day, it’s still important to prioritize getting better sleep at night. With that in mind, Dr. Xu shares some tips to help you sleep better:

    • Practice healthy stress management. Dr. Xu says one of the best ways to encourage quality sleep is to know how you respond to stress, which often disrupts sleep. “It’s always good to try mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, light yoga, journaling, or listening to relaxing sounds—especially before bed,” he says. “Don’t work in bed and don’t work late if you want to get a good night’s sleep.”
    • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed every night and waking up every day is critical if you want to sleep better at night. “Keep a regular sleep schedule in place to keep your circadian clock running smoothly,” Dr. Xu advises.
    • Optimize your bedroom decor. The decor in your bedroom also affects how well you can sleep. Dr. Xu recommends keeping the bedroom “comfortably cool (60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit), dark and quiet.” Other measures you can take, according to Dr. Xu, include blocking out outside noise with a white noise generator or earplugs, or limiting disturbing noises and light by getting a soft eye mask with built-in Bluetooth headphones.

    Another way to optimize your bedroom environment for better sleep is to freshen up your existing mattress with one of the best mattress toppers for extra comfort and support. Also, make sure you sleep on the pillow that best suits your preferences and body type – otherwise you’ll suffer from pain or night sweats if you tend to sleep in the heat.

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