Good sleep is a crucial part of overall health, but plenty of people struggle to get the recommended seven-plus hours a night. Data suggests that one in four women has symptoms of insomnia, like trouble falling asleep, issues staying asleep, or both, leaving many searching for help for sleep problems.
4-7-8 Relaxation Technique
The 4-7-8 breathing or relaxation technique requires a person to focus on taking a long, deep breath in and out. Rhythmic breathing is a core part of many meditation and yoga practices as it promotes relaxation.
This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help people get to sleep. Some proponents claim that the method helps people get to sleep in 1 minute. Dr Andrew Weil – a celebrity doctor and the founder and director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine has introduced this technique. According to him, the 4-7-8 breathing technique can help with reducing anxiety, helping a person get to sleep, and managing cravings while controlling or reducing anger responses.
“What a lot of sleep difficulties are all about is people who struggle to fall asleep because their mind is buzzing,” said Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist in the division of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“But exercises like the 4-7-8 technique allow you to practice being at peace. And that’s exactly what we need to do before we go to bed.”
“It does not ‘put you to sleep,’ but rather it may reduce anxiety to increase the likelihood of falling asleep,” said Joshua Tal, a New York state-based clinical psychologist.
How Does 4-7-8 Work?
The exercise doesn’t require any equipment. All you need to do is to sit in a comfortable position. Sitting in a calm and relaxed environment can further help with the technique.
The steps for the breathing pattern are as follows.
- Place the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth.
- Empty the lungs of the air.
- Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
- Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds.
- Repeat the cycle up to 4 times.
Dr. Weil recommends using the technique at least twice a day to start seeing the benefits sooner. He also suggests that people avoid doing more than four breath cycles in a row until they have more practice with the technique.
A person may feel lightheaded after doing this for the first few times. Therefore, it is advisable to try this technique when sitting or lying down to prevent dizziness or falls.
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