I think we can all agree that the hardest part of sleeping is actually falling asleep. Once you've drifted away to dreamland, sleep is pretty much the best thing of all time. But getting there – now that's the problem.
If you've been having trouble getting to sleep, leading to...
increased risk of illness
...then you absolutely must try this simple strategy for falling asleep in less than a minute!
It's called the 4-7-8 breathing technique, and it's super easy to do. Here's how:
1. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds.
2. Hold your breath for seven seconds.
3. Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.
Simple, right? You're probably wondering how just switching up your breathing pattern can be such a useful tool in falling asleep.
Anxiety is often a huge culprit behind difficulty falling asleep. When you're stressed out, adrenaline coursing through your veins leads to a faster heart rate and quick, shallow breathing. Your body isn't getting enough oxygen, compounding feelings of anxiousness (and sleeplessness).
How does the 4-7-8 technique help? Research by Harvard-educated Dr. Andrew Weil has found that this specific breathing pattern has an almost drug-like effect on our brains. Consciously taking in more oxygen, holding it, and then steadily expelling all the carbon dioxide from your lungs naturally causes your heartbeat to slow, and increases oxygen levels in the blood. You will feel a wonderful sensation of calm and relaxation spread through your mind and body after just a single repetition. A couple more, and voila – you're snoring.
You can also use this technique to calm yourself in everyday stressful situations, like before a piano recital or on a turbulent flight. It works wonders, believe me – I can't believe how relaxed it makes me feel, and just full of a sense of well-being.
Give it a try for yourself, and let us know what you think! :D
Dr. Andrew Weil