Breathing to Relax and Sleep
Sometimes we need a little help relaxing or getting to sleep. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests a special breathing technique called the 4-7-8 Breath. He calls it, “the perfect, portable stress antidote, as it puts the practitioner in a relaxed state almost immediately.”
He suggests using it,” whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. Great for mild to moderate anxiety, this exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it. This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”
The exercise can be done in any position, but while learning it, sit with your back straight. 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, making a whoosh sound. 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 the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. You always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation.
Dr Weil suggests practicing the technique twice a day, for six to eight weeks until you’ve mastered it enough to fall asleep in just 60 seconds.