Restful nights breed happier days, and I think we all deserve to wake up feeling refreshed more often than not. Learn how to fall asleep easier with this physician-approved relaxation technique (I’ve tried it and it’s really helpful when I can’t seem to get my brain to stop going, going, going).
“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.”Sleep is spiritual practice. – Gabby Bernstein Click To Tweet
Harness the stress-melting power of meditative breathing with the following formula for restful nights (and happier mornings).
How to Fall Asleep Easier with the 4-7-8 Breathing Method
In a nutshell: Inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat (at least) 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.Focusing intently on rhythmic breathing is an accessible and effective way to create calm. Click To Tweet
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 this Deep Breathing Exercise During the Day
The 4-7-8 breathing method can be applied as a soothing balm for stressful moments during your day, too.
In the presence of internal tension or external confrontation, return to this simple breathing tool—plus, if you practice using your breath as a tool during the day, it will be easier to implement when you’re trying to fall asleep at night.
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 become. You cannot practice this method too often, and when you do forget (because we all forget), it’s easy to come back to.
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.
- Have you tried (and liked) 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?
Please share your favorite stress-relief practices, positive changes you’ve made in your sleeping habits, and any refreshing advice or ideas with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who could use a good night’s sleep.
In moments of stress and joy, of exhaustion and vitality, always return to your breath—it’s always here for you, to help you live a life filled with peace, passion, adventure, and enough sleep.