When your anxiety graph soars high, you often rely on the foolproof technique of deep breaths. But when you find yourself laying in bed and staring at the ceiling for hours on end—struggling to fall asleep—what do you do? Chamomile tea, reading a book, ditching electronic devices or perhaps, lighting a few scented candles—you’ve played the field to end up watching the night sky welcome the sun. Did this scenario hit home? Then it’s time to give the 4-7-8 breathing technique a try.
Developed by Dr Andrew Weil, an integrative medicine specialist at the University of Arizona, US, the 4-7-8 breathing technique has been hailed as the ‘natural tranquiliser for the nervous system.’ This approach to inducing sleep has its roots in the ancient Indian yogic tradition of pranayama. A form of breath regulation, pranayama helps calm down the body, eventually easing you into sleep. Drawing from these relaxation benefits, the 4-7-8 breathing technique is now known as the easiest and most effective slumber-inducing hack.
How It Works
The perils of the hustle culture have led to people becoming shallow breathers, often contributing to stress and tension. And this is exactly where the 4-7-8 method comes to the rescue by minimising anxious feelings and clearing your mind.
After activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the method switches off the sympathetic nervous system (which triggers the stress response or popularly known as the flight-or-fight mode). While this helps to soothe the mind, rhythmic breathing makes you fall asleep faster and reduces anxiety.
How to Practice The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
Step 1: Lie down on your back.
Step 2: Breathe in silently through the nose for a count of 4 seconds.
Step 3: Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
Step 4: By making a ‘whoosh’ sound, exhale gradually through pursed lips for 8 seconds.
Step 5: Repeat the cycle 4 times.
But when can you expect significant results, you wonder? Dr Weil advises, “It’s the regularity of doing this over a period of weeks, months, years that produces the changes that you want.” Well begun is half done, they say. So to all the day-break sleepyheads, we suggest you practice the method for the coming few weeks and discover the results for yourself.
Photographs: Instagram (@katja.perez), Pinterest