Have you ever experienced lying awake at night trying hard to go to sleep and having nothing work? Sure you have, because it is estimated by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that every night 30% of the U.S. population cannot get to sleep because of insomnia.
And when you are caught up in this ‘spin cycle’ of wakefulness you might think there’s not much you can do to break free. Your doctor can prescribe you meds for insomnia, but that might not appeal to most of you. Here’s something you can do: the 4-7-8.
It’s a new solution based on breathing. Not the breathing you are now doing, but a different kind pioneered by Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. It’s called the 4-7-8 breathing technique.
Dr. Andrew Weil describes it as a yoga-inspired breathing method that is simple, takes almost no time at all to learn, requires no equipment and can be accomplished anywhere.
Dr. Weil claims that 4-7-8 breathing can help people suffering from occasional bouts of insomnia fall asleep in just 60 seconds. The breathing technique acts as a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system” that reduces stress and tension in the body.
How do you do it?
If you are sleeping with a bed partner, you may have to exit the bedroom because you are going to make some noise doing this exercise.
- Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just above your teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise. (This position lets your jaw muscle relax because you are not clenching your teeth.)
- Exhale completely through your mouth quite forcefully so you make a “whoosh” sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly and softly through your nose and count to four.
- Hold your breath and count to seven.
- Next, exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for an eight count in one complete breath.
- Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four cycles.
How does it help?
Dr. Weil states that you increase the amount of oxygen in your body so that it relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system and promotes a state of calmness. It helps rebalance the nervous system, which can become over stimulated during times of stress. It helps you connect with your body and your breathing and distract you from everyday thoughts that can prevent you from sleeping.
Give it a try the next time you can’t get to sleep….