The Breathing Exercise That Can Help You Fall Asleep in a Minute

October 22, 2016 5:00 am
Woman sleeping at home in her bed (Getty Images)
Woman sleeping at home in her bed (Getty Images)
Woman sleeping at home in her bed (Getty Images)
Woman sleeping at home in her bed (Getty Images)

Americans are struggling with sleep. A recent study showed that the average sleep duration has decreased one-and-a-half to two hours over the last 50 years. Some have difficulty staying asleep, while others just can’t drift off in the first place. Many attribute the growing issue to the blue light emitted from our phones and other electronic devices, stimulating brain activity.

There are many ways to get better sleep, but one trick to get to sleep quickly in the first place is an unconventional breathing exercise. Called the 4-7-8 method, this technique has been touted by many including the best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, who extolls the virtues of certain holistic and Eastern medicine practices. The breathing technique is based on the ancient Indian practice pranayama, which involves the manipulation of breaths for releasing stress and anxiety.

Young cheerful man by the lake arms outstretched for positive emotion.
Young man breathing in mountain air (Getty Images)
Getty Images

How to Perform the 4-7-8 Method:

1. Place your tongue tip against the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth. Keep it there for the duration of the exercise.

2. Exhale completely out your mouth, while making a whoosh sound.

3. Inhale slowly through your nose while mentally counting to four.

4. Count to seven while holding your breath.

5. Exhale completely through your mouth for over eight counts, while making the whoosh sound from before.

6. This concludes the first cycle. Repeat the process three more times, for a total of four cycles.

If done right, the six-step method is supposed to make you fall asleep in under one minute. 4-7-8 is intended to retrain your entire way of breathing. Scientific studies indicate pranayama breathing techniques have a host of pulmonary, cardiovascular, and neurological benefits. In order for the method to be most effective, it should be performed regularly.

Try the technique before bed tonight and see how you fare. If you’re confused or want to know more information, you can watch the video below of Dr. Weil explaining the 4-7-8 method.

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