It’s 2 o’clock in the morning, you’ve been tossing and turning for what may seem like hours, and have counted hundreds of sheep. Does this situation sound familiar?
If so, there’s probably a load of thoughts keeping you up: from the day’s excitements to tomorrow’s anxieties.
There’s an interesting study practice that a lot of people swear by which is the 4-7-8 breathing method.
It’s a breathing pattern based on an ancient yogic technique called Pranayama - the Hatha yoga practice of controlling your breathing. Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil to help you fall asleep in a minute or less. Two, if you’re just starting out. It forces your body and mind to focus on regulating your breathing. Doing so brings your attention away from your thoughts.
- When you’re all set in bed and ready to relax, start off by placing the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your two front teeth.
- For this breathing exercise to work, you’ll need to keep your tongue positioned there the entire time.
- It may seem hard as you start doing it, but be patient. It takes time and practice to keep your tongue from moving as you exhale. Tip: pursing your lips may help.
- This exercise takes more or less about four full breaths, depending on how much practice you’ve had with it.
Here are the 4 steps to help you sleep:
- Let your lips part slightly naturally. As you exhale through your mouth, make a “whooshing” sound.
- Then, close your lips. Inhale silently through your nose this time, and count to four in your head.
- Next, hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Lastly, exhale through your mouth again, with the same “whooshing” sound, for eight seconds.
Use this exercise as a distraction from your thoughts, and focus on breathing only. Complete four cycles of this breathing and you should feel yourself letting go and relaxing with each cycle. It may take less than four cycles, or more if you’re new to it.