If you struggle with insomnia due to stress or anxiety, you may have tried everything from weighted blankets to white noise machines to bedtime yoga. But the answer to your problem may be as simple as the 4-7-8 breathing, which is touted by many as the Holy Grail of relaxation techniques. Let’s take a closer look at how you can practice the 4-7-8 breathing method to relieve stress, calm your mind, and find effortless slumber like a pro.
What Is 4-7-8 Breathing?
Also called “relaxing breath,” 4-7-8 breathing is a deep, rhythmic method of breath control developed by Dr. Andrew Weil. It is based on an ancient yoga technique called pranayama and is designed to put you in charge of your breathing patterns. People who practice this form of breathing claim it puts their bodies into a state of deep relaxation and soothes them to sleep fast.
How It Works
Following the simple steps of breath control, 4-7-8 breathing allows you to be mindful of your breath, which acts as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system. This enables you to clear your mind of unwanted mental clutter that may be impeding your ability to relax. Part of the method also requires you to hold your breath, replenishing your air supply and giving your organs a boost of oxygen and the proper balance of airflow to your system.
How to Do It
Fortunately, for those in a rush to relax, there are only four steps to 4-7-8 breathing. The steps are easy to remember and require no medications, tools, or equipment. The numbers four, seven, and eight tell you exactly how long to complete each step of the breathing pattern. Let’s walk through the four simple steps below:
- Step 1: Sitting with your back straight, part your lips and exhale completely, making a “whoosh” sound.
- Step 2: Close your lips and, counting to four, inhale slowly through your nose.
- Step 3: Hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Step 4: Part your lips once more and exhale audibly for eight seconds, again making the “whoosh” sound to complete one 4-7-8 breath.
- Repeat this 4-7-8 cycle three more times for deep relaxation and to promote sleep.
There is something to be said for mindful, controlled breathing when you are stressed or distracted. You might find the practice of regulating your breath, rather than revisiting your worries, to be a game-changer in your nighttime routine!
Have you ever practiced mindful breathing to relax and fall asleep? Share your tips with us in the comments below!