This simple exercise can help you sleep soundly and manage stressful situations in a better way. Promoted by Harvard educated Dr. Andrew Weil, the breathing technique, known as 4-7-8, changes your body’s physiology and alters your state of mind. This yogic method might be the easiest and cheapest way to achieve some deep relaxation amidst your busy life schedule which will enable you to go to sleep fast.
4-7-8 Breathing Exercise – How to Perform It
- Do the exercise in a position that is comfortable for you: sitting, standing, lying. If you’re sitting, keep your back straight.
- Put the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth and keep it there for the duration of the exercise.
- Breathe out completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Breathe in through your nose silently to a count of 4.
- Hold your breath and count to 7.
- Breathe out through your mouth, making a whoosh sound and count to 8.
- This is one cycle.
- Repeat the cycle 4 times. You might fall asleep before you finish the final repetition.
Note: Exhalation is twice as long as inhalation. It’s important that you maintain the ratio of 4-7-8 throughout the practice. Adjust the counting to your breathing. You might need to start by counting faster, and then progress to a slower rhythm as you get used to the routine. The speed is not important; it’s the ratio that brings the positive effects.
Dr. Weil suggests using this technique also when you’re feeling stressed, so you can deal better with your emotions and produce a more balanced reaction. He advises repeating the exercise at least two times daily, best in the morning and in the evening.
Always do 4 cycles at a time. After one month, this can be increased to up to 8 cycles. With time, when you become familiar with the breathing routine, it will be easier to employ it in challenging daily
How Does It Work?
When we feel anxious or stressed, more adrenalin gets released into the blood stream. The heart beat gets quicker and the breathing becomes shallower and faster. You might even hold your breath in an unnatural way.
When you perform the 4-7-8 technique, you extend your inhalation, so you take in more oxygen. When you hold your breath, the oxygen gets to travel around the body, and then you slowly release the carbon dioxide as you breathe out in a controlled manner.
You’ll feel the heart beat slowing down, and you might even experience some gentle light-headedness since the technique works in a sedative-like way. The parasympathetic part of the brain gets activated, making you feel more relaxed and calm.