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Try These Simple Breathing Exercises

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? If so, you're not alone. 

Millions of people around the world suffer from insomnia and other sleep-related issues. 

Fortunately, there is a simple solution that can help you get the rest you need: Breathwork. In the wake of the pandemic, breathwork has become one of the fastest growing trends because the benefits are numerous and backed by science. 

In this article, we will discuss how to use breathwork to fall asleep quickly and easily. If you're looking for a better night's sleep, keep reading!

What is breathwork and why should you use it for sleep? 

Breathwork is a form of meditation that uses breath to reduce stress and achieve a state of mindfulness. This simple but powerful practice can help you fall asleep because it relaxes the mind and body, and clears away any distracting thoughts.

Simple Breathing Exercises

When you’re stressed or anxious, your breath becomes shallow and rapid, which can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. But by practising breathwork, you can learn how to control your breath and slow it down, which in turn will help you calm down and relax. And since breathing slowly and consciously oxygenates the body, it can help you drift off to sleep faster. 

There are many different types of breathwork and relaxation techniques, but all of them share the same goal: to focus the mind and connect with the breath. 

Here are 2 of my favourite breathing exercises for sleep, which begin to show effects in just a few minutes. 

4-7-8 Breath: 

One of the simplest and most effective breathing technique is the 4-7-8 breath. Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique draws from the ancient yogic breathwork tradition called Pranayama, the science of breath control. According to Dr. Weil, this technique is a “natural tranquillizer for the nervous system.”

To practice this breathing technique, simply follow these steps:

  1. Exhale fully and make a whooshing sound.
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose for four counts.
  3. Hold your breath for seven counts.
  4. Exhale through your mouth for eight counts. 
  5. Repeat this cycle three times.

This breathwork exercise helps to calm and soothe the mind and body, and it can be especially helpful for those who have trouble sleeping at night.

Peaceful breath:

If you want to try another breathwork exercise for sleep, here is one called the "peaceful breath." 

To do this breathing technique, follow these steps:

  1. Take a deep breath slowly through your nose, until your lungs are full.
  2. Hold your breath for a few seconds.
  3. Slowly exhale through your nose, until your lungs are empty.
  4. Repeat this cycle five times. 
  5. Finish by taking a few deep breaths in and out through your nose.

Why these techniques work: 

Here are a few reasons why thousands of people around the world have found these techniques useful for getting a good night's rest. 

Breath holds: 

Holding your breath intermittently during breathwork allows your organs and tissues to replenish their oxygen supply. When the oxygen supply to your Mitochondria (Powerhouse of your cell) is optimized, you begin to feel more calm and relaxed. 

Nasal breathing: 

Unlike mouth breathing, Nasal breathing helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system (the branch associated with rest, recovery and digestion), which puts you in an ideal state for falling asleep. 

Furthermore, nasal nitric oxide (NO) plays a key role in the transportation of oxygen to your cells for energy production. 

Simple Breathing Exercises

Slow breathing: 

Breathing quickly is associated with the sympathetic branch of the nervous system, which leads to elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels and anxiousness. On the other hand, breathing slowly helps you decrease your blood pressure and improve oxygen up take, which creates the ideal condition for sleep. 

Tips for getting the most out of breathwork for sleep: 

Here are some proven strategies to help you fall asleep quickly, in addition to the breathing techniques described above. 

Avoid blue light: 

Your body depends on a natural sleep and wake cycle called the circadian rhythm, which is regulated by light-levels. In order to sleep, your body needs to produce a hormone called Melatonin, which is hampered by unnatural sources of blue light from electronic devices at night. According to emerging studies, even your bedroom color can influence the quality of your sleep

Avoid late dinners: 

Eating late at night puts undue stress on your digestion system, which prevents your nervous system from entering into a parasympathetic state of rest, relaxation and digestion.

Try having your last meal 2-3 hours before going to sleep to ensure that your body is ready and prepared for a good night's rest. 

Avoid disturbing and scary media before sleep: 

Going to sleep and staying asleep requires you to be in a state of deep relaxation (parasympathetic state). Watching scary or disturbing content on Youtube or other streaming platforms keeps your body in a state of alert sympathetic dominance, setting the stage for distressing dreams that make it hard to stay asleep. 

An older study of college students found that 90% could recall a frightening TV show or other media experience, and half said it had affected their sleep or eating habits in childhood or adolescence. More surprising is that about one-fourth of the students said they still experienced some residual anxiety! 

Wrapping Up

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, breathwork is a great tool to try. These simple but effective techniques help clear away the mental and emotional clutter that can interfere with sleep.

The best part is that breathwork is simple, free, and can be done anywhere. 

So give it a try tonight and see if it helps you sleep better. Sweet dreams!

Bio: 

Aditya Jaykumar Iyer (AJ) is a certified Breathwork instructor and the host & founder of My Seven Chakras with over 6.4 million downloads till date. Aditya has spent the last 8 years conducting interviews with over 500 of the foremost wellness experts and has documented his learnings & discoveries on his blog. You can connect with him on Instagram at @mysevenchakras

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