Nothing is worse than lying awake at night, willing your brain to shut down so you can rest. Warm milk, lavender oil, and counting sheep — we've all tried them. But the new solution to all your sleep troubles could be simply learning to breathe.
What is it?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique was pioneered Dr. Andrew Weil, the founder and director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, who describes the yoga-inspired method as "utterly simple." It "takes almost no time, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere," he says.
Dr. Weil claims that 4-7-8 breathing can help people fall asleep in just 60 seconds by acting as a "natural tranquilizer for the nervous system," which reduces stress and tension in the body.
How do you do it?
1. Before you begin, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just above your teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise.
2. Exhale completely through your mouth quite forcefully so you make a "whoosh" sound.
3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly and softly through your nose for a mental count of four.
4. Hold your breath and count to seven.
5. Next, exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight seconds in one large breath.
6. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.
Remember: All inhaling breaths must be quiet and through your nose, and all exhaling breaths must be loud and through your mouth.
How does it help?
• It takes in more oxygen, relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system, and promotes a state of calmness.
• It helps rebalance the nervous system, which can become overstimulated during times of stress.
• It helps you connect with your body and your breathing and distract you from everyday thoughts that can prevent you from sleeping.