#36alive 32: The Sleep-Inducing 4-7-8 Breath

mssilk-breathable-pure-silk-sleep-eye-mask-with-brocade-pouch-gift-white-eyelashes-0There are plenty of sleep accessories out there to help those who struggle with getting some good quality rest; eye masks, earplugs, white noise, binaural beats, supplements, and specially crafted beds.

Whilst all of those things can be useful, they can also be costly, and get us into the habit of relying on specific things to help us naturally fall asleep. So today, we share something that you already have all of the time that can help you sleep: Your breathing….

This ‘hack’ is based upon the Yogic practice of pranayama (meaning control or regulation of the breath, whilst simultaneously meaning breath ‘expansion’), and it is said to be effective because of its ability to quickly remove excess carbon dioxide.

woman-sleeping-in-bedBreathing in this way can slow the heart rate, calm the nervous system, and create an environment which is perfectly suited to falling soundly asleep.

Dr. Andrew Weil popularised this theory of – as he calls it – The Relaxing Breath, and says; ‘Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. By simply focusing your attention on your breathing, and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation. Too much attention on upsetting thoughts may cause anxiety, guilt and unhappiness. Get in the habit of shifting your awareness to your breath whenever you find yourself dwelling on stressful situations’

To begin the technique, Weil explains:

“Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward”.

Then follow these five steps:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

icon-sleep-1z83y6pFrom experience, we’ve found that part way though the exercise, you’re likely to begin to think “This isn’t working!”, and the next moment, you’ve woken up after hours of restful sleep….

Try this technique tonight and let us know how you feel the next morning!

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