Despite the important role sleep plays in the quality of our lives, approximately one-third of adults fail to get a good night’s sleep every day. [1]

It can be a real challenge to fall asleep when your mind is alert with anxious thoughts about work, bills and life.

But, if we don’t learn to sleep well, how can we perform at our best every day? Good sleep gives us the necessary energy, health and mental edge required to make consistent progress towards our goals.

One of the best ways to fall asleep quicker is by practicing deep breathing exercises. [2]

Here’s one of the most effective techniques—it’s called the “4-7-8” breathing technique.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Harvard trained medical doctor, Dr. Andrew Weil, first introduced the “4-7-8” breathing technique to help people alleviate anxiety and sleep quicker. [3]

Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Sit down on a chair and keep your back straight.

Step 2: Place the tip of your tongue against the mouth tissue just behind your upper front teeth. 

Step 3: Inhale for 4 seconds

Step 4: Hold your breath for 7 seconds

Step 5: Exhale (through your mouth) for 8 seconds

Congratulations, you just completed one round of “4-7-8” breathing. Rinse and repeat for at least 4 rounds. [4]

Note: Make sure to keep your tongue in the same position throughout. You can also repeat this exercise twice or more every day. If you feel light headed at any point stop the exercise.

Here’s a quick video demonstration by Dr. Weil himself on how to do this properly.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise Video


Footnotes

1. Research studies by Institute of Medicine also showing that sleep deprivation could be linked to diabetes, obesity, depression and other health problems.

2. Studies on effect of deep breathing exercises on blood pressure and heart rate.

3.Thanks to Dr Weil for his work on this.

4.The 4-7-8 breathing technique is similar pranayamic breathing. Respiratory practices that improve sleep by reducing stress and blood pressure issues.

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