Sleep better with the 4-7-8 breathing technique

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June 15, 2021
Health and Wellness

Sleep better with the 4-7-8 breathing technique

If you have trouble falling asleep, try the 4-7-8 breathing technique that promotes relaxation and helps people sleep better.

Breathing techniques help us relax when we are nervous, anxious, or have difficulty falling asleep. However, we rarely know how to apply them, and we breathe deeply and exhale without rhyme or reason. Among so many methods recommended by specialists, the 4-7-8 breathing technique created by Dr. Andrew Weil, director of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, is one of the most recommended exercises.

How to carry out this technique

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends that we practice the 4-7-8 technique seated, with our back straight and supported by a backrest. Although this posture is not ideal for sleep, it allows us to learn the method better and apply it in different circumstances.

To get started, 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.

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to four as you breathe in.
  3. Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.
  4. Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8, making a whoosh sound. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to eight.
  5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

If you can’t do the full counts on the first few tries, it’s perfectly fine. Breathe in, hold, and breathe out for as long as you feel comfortable. With practice, you’ll be able to work up to the 4-7-8 counts. It’s that easy! Try it!

Other applications of relaxing breathing

The 4-7-8 method is a popular technique for falling asleep. It also works to relax us when we are angry or have an important presentation, as well as helping to relieve the tension generated by the daily pressures of life. When we are upset, we breathe incorrectly, which can affect our mood, decision-making and make us more prone to heart disease or digestive problems. This method slows down the heartbeat, promotes oxygen circulation, and eliminates toxins from our system. It also helps us to become aware of how stress is reflected in involuntary acts (such as rapid breathing) that harm us without knowing it.

Good habits are the best allies for sleeping

More and more people suffer from sleep disorders and, sometimes, just by changing our habits, we can improve this situation. Below you can find a list of suggestions that will help you fall asleep.

  • Always stick to a routine and try to go to sleep at the same time each day.
  • Cell phones, tablets, or watching television before bedtime is associated with poor sleep quality.
  • Foods like milk, banana, pineapple, eggs, and chicken contain tryptophan, a substance that helps you relax.
  • If you are having a hard time falling asleep, don't look at what time it is, and don't toss and turn. Instead, try to read or put it practice the 4-7-8 method. 
  • Try to maintain a temperate climate in your room will help you relax.

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