Restful nights breed happier days, and I think we all deserve to wake up happy more often than not. Learn how to fall asleep easier with this physician-approved relaxation technique.
“Sleep is when our soul actually refreshes our body.” – Deepak Chopra
Also known as the Relaxing Breath exercise, the 4-7-8 breathing exercise purposefully alters the pattern of inhaling and exhaling, positively affecting blood pressure and heart rate, two systems closely linked to quality of sleep.
Introduced by Dr. Andrew Weil, this breathing trick promotes higher quality of sleep and acts as a portable antidote to stress.
Stress is a major cause of sleepless nights, which might be why Dr. Weil describes this breathing exercise as a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”
Harness the stress-melting power of meditative breathing with the following formula for restful nights (and happier mornings).
How to Fall Asleep Easier
In a nutshell: Inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat four times.
Dr. Weil recommends sitting with your back straight while learning this exercise. He also mentions that if you feel lightheaded in the beginning, it is not cause for concern and it will pass.
- 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.
- Exhale completely through your mouth around your tongue, making a whoosh sound. Try pursing your lips if this feels awkward.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat three more times for a total of four cycles.
You can also read these steps here.
Keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 in order to experience the full beneficial effects. In your first month of practice, do not inhale for more than four breaths; you can increase the count to eight later on if you wish.
Practice Deep Breathing Anytime, Anywhere
The 4-7-8 exercise can be applied as a soothing balm for stressful moments during your day, too. In the presence of internal tension or external confrontation, remember this simple breathing tool.
Though subtle at first, this exercise gains in power with repetition and practice. The more you practice deep, rhythmic breathing, the more powerful the effects of each breath will become. You cannot practice this method too often, and when you do forget (because we all forget), it’s easy to come back to.
- Have you tried this or any other breathing exercises to relieve stress or fall asleep?
- What nightly routines or peaceful thoughts have made falling asleep easier for you?
I’ve also found the SODA method to be helpful in stressful situations, and this nightly routine might bring you peace. Journaling about your emotions, how your day went, and tomorrow’s tasks before bedtime is another sleep-friendly practice.
Please share your thoughts, favorite stress-relief practices, and any helpful stories with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who could use a good night’s sleep.
In moments of stress and moments of joy, return always to your breath.
Free laurel crown graphic by We Lived Happily Ever After, lettering by Aim Happy.