Destress with this easy breathing technique.
Do you ever feel like you jump into bed only to spend the next few hours entertaining every thought that flies into your head? Don’t fret; you are not alone! Sleep patterns tend to change as we age. Most of us have a more challenging time falling asleep and tend to wake up more often as we get older. These types of everyday anxieties are typical. But if you’re wondering how to fall asleep fast, experts say 4-7-8 breathing can help.
Stress and breath are inextricably linked. When we learn how to consciously manipulate our breath, we can send our brain signals that all is calm and it’s okay to relax. Learn this simple breathing technique that you can do anytime, anywhere when your stress level is rising.
The easiest way to do 4-7-8 is by sitting comfortably on bed or a chair and placing a hand on your belly and inhaling through your nose for the count of four, holding your breath for the count of seven, and then exhaling for the count of eight. Placing your hands on your stomach and visualizing a balloon in your belly allows for a deeper inhale. Imagine filling up a balloon with your breath, then holding it. When you exhale, you slowly let the air out of the balloon, bring the belly back toward your spine, and fully exhale.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is based on pranayama breathing exercises. Pranayama is the ancient yogic practice of controlling your breath. Research shows that when you breathe this way, with your exhale twice as long as your inhale, your brain sends signals that counteract “pressing the gas” on the sympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. fight-or-flight state), resulting in a feeling of calmness in the body.
Doing this 4-7-8 breathing for a series of four rounds whenever you are feeling stressed or anxious or preparing for sleep will help calm and relax you. You will immediately begin to notice how much better you feel after you finish the series.
RESOURCES + TOOLS
This downloadable worksheet will help guide you through the process! You can find this and other useful tools on the “resource” tab on our website.