Simply breathing is one of the most potent ways to help yourself fall asleep.
Slow, deep breaths are used in most breathing techniques for sleeping. This gives you something to concentrate on, particularly useful if you have trouble falling asleep due to a wandering mind.
Breathing in a rhythmic pattern will also help to relax and calm the body. Breathing exercises are essentially calming strategies that can reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and prepare for sleep.
Here are three breathing exercises to help you sleep better:
1. Breathing through the diaphragm
The diaphragm is a large muscle located at the base of your lungs that is responsible for breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing causes a negative pressure in the pleural cavity, which is the space between the lungs' linings if this pressure is negative, blood flow to the heart increases, which lowers the heart rate and helps you feel calmer and more relaxed.
This is how you do it:
Concentrate on your stomach. Focus on breathing into your belly rather than your chest to begin diaphragmatic breathing. Putting your hand on your belly to feel it rise and fall can be beneficial. This can be done sitting or lying down.
Please take a few deep breaths and hold them for a few seconds before letting them out. Imagine the air filling your abdomen, then escaping through your airways again and again.
Repeat the process slowly. Continue this pattern for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel ready to fall asleep.
According to Barker, this exercise often aids in the reduction of bodily stress, which can interfere with sleep. This can include a pounding pulse, heavy breathing, or pressure, all of which are signs of panic attacks or anxiety attacks.
Grown-ups who exercised diaphragmatic breathing for at least 10 minutes twice a day for eight weeks showed lower anxiety levels, as assessed by the Beck Anxiety Inventory, according to a randomized, controlled study published in Perspectives in Psychiatric Treatment.
2. Examine the whole body
A body scan is a form of medical test.
This has been shown to help people sleep better. Focusing on your breath while calming your muscles is the aim of this technique.
Here's how to do it step by step:
Take up a role. If you want to sleep, you should probably lie down in bed. However, there are various meditation postures to choose from, so find one that is most comfortable for you.
Examine the whole body, noting how it feels. Body scan meditations usually begin at the top and work their way down to the toes, or vice versa.
Guide your breath to an area of tension when you feel it. Examine if you can feel the stress dissipate and the affected body part relax. If your mind wanders, note it and bring it back to your body's sensations.
According to studies, body scans have been shown to alleviate stress, encourage relaxation, and enhance sleep quality. For example, a 2020 study of 54 insomniac adolescents found that performing a 20-minute body scan before bedtime helped them sleep longer and wake less frequently.
3. Breathing: 4-7-8
4-7-8 breathing, a method that involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds, is said to help people relax.
Andrew Weil, MD, the founder of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, has called it a "natural tranquilizer." Organizations like the Alaska Sleep Clinic and the American Association for Retired Persons have also cited the technique to help people sleep better (AARP).
This is how you do it:
Count to four when inhaling through your nose. According to Weil, keep your tongue against the top of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth.
Then, for a count of seven, hold the breath. If seven seconds is too long, cut it in half as long as the 4:7:8 ratio is preserved. Inhale for two seconds, keep for three and a half seconds, and exhale for four seconds.
Finally, exhale for eight counts through your mouth. Create a "whoosh" sound as you exhale.
4-7-8 breathing is a form of pranayama taught in yoga and other eastern cultures. Pranayama will help you relax by lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, making it easier to fall asleep.
Thirty-nine adults were asked to do a pranayama technique similar to 4-7-8 breathing in a study conducted in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. They sat for five minutes and breathed in through their nose for four seconds before slowly exhaling for six seconds. The systolic and diastolic blood pressures also decreased dramatically, as did the heart rate.