It can be pretty tough to fall asleep when your brain is thinking nonstop or anxiety has gotten the best of you, and it seems to only get harder when you’re lying in bed listening to yourself breathe. Yet paying attention to that breathing may be exactly what you need in order to find a calm, easy entry into a good night’s rest.
The exercise is called the 4-7-8 technique or “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.
” Study after study has linked meditation to lowered stress levels, and this easy-to-follow exercise will help you reap some of the de-stressing benefits that come along with consistent meditation practice.
Beyond bedtime, Dr. Weil recommends performing this exercise whenever dealing with a stressful situation. The next time you can’t curb sugar cravings, get into a fight with your partner, or can’t hit the hay because you’re overwhelmed, try it out for yourself. You’ll start feeling more relaxed immediately. Here’s how to do it:
1.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.
2.Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
3.Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
4.Hold your breath for a count of seven.
5.Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
6.This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat three more times for a total of four cycles.
Why This Sleep Hack Works So Well?
So, what’s so special about breathing in and out differently? This pattern of inhales and exhales gets not only your lungs, but also your brain working to put you to sleep. When we lie awake, anxiously awaiting sleep, we begin to stress ourselves out over the thought of not sleeping at all. In turn, our heartbeat increases and we take shallow, desperate breaths.
For more explanation, plus a video tutorial, check out this video: