3 Breathing Exercises for Better Sleep at Night
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep each night, you’re far from alone. Around one in three people have some kind of sleep disorder or issue with insomnia – even if it’s only mild. These days, there are so many different things keeping us awake that it’s difficult for anyone to find the right quality of sleep.
Whether you stay awake all night watching movies or your issues with anxiety and stress keep you up, there is one quick fix that might help you to find the relaxation that you need to regain positive sleeping patterns. If you can control your breathing using a few basic exercises or some simple meditation strategies, then you can open the door to a more peaceful evening.
Why Controlled Breathing?
Breathing is one of the most important parts of most relaxation practices, like yoga and meditation. That’s because mindful breathing brings us into the moment and forces us to focus on the way that we feel. When you’re concentrating on breathing according to a specific rhythm, you can’t also spend all your mental energy worrying about what might happen at work tomorrow, or what you said to your partner earlier that day.
Controlled breathing also allows you to open up your lungs and fill your body with nourishing oxygen so that you can feel more in control. Controlled breathing can even stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps to release a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine. This substance decreases our feelings of anxiety and promotes a sense of calm.
Ready to get started? Try these 3 easy exercises.
1. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
One of the simplest focused breathing options available today, the 4-7-8 technique starts with exhaling completely, making a whooshing sound while you do. When you’re ready to inhale, do so through your nose for four seconds, and hold that breath for a count of seven. Then inhale for a full 8 seconds. You can repeat this process to about four times, gradually working your way up to more repetitions. This breathing technique was designed by Dr. Andrew Weil as part of an approach to mindful yoga.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing
To engage in a diaphragmatic breathing session, start by lying on your back and bending your knees. You can also just sit in a chair if you prefer. Place one of your hands on your chest, and the other on your stomach. As you start to take slow and deep breaths in through your nose, keep the hand on your chest still and pay attention to how the hand on your stomach rises and falls. Eventually, you should be able to breathe in and out without your chest moving at all, helping you to achieve deeper breathing.
3. Box Breathing
The box breathing technique requires you to focus on the oxygen that you’re bringing into your body and the air that you’re pushing out into the world around you. Sit with your back straight. Breathe in slowly and fill up your lungs with as much air as you can while you count to four in your head. Hold your breath for at least four seconds. Then, exhale and push all of the air out of them while counting to four. Hold your breath for four counts again. Repeat the process a few times.
Breathe Your Way to Better Sleep
There are plenty of different types of mindful breathing to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that will work for you. No matter what kind of mindful breathing you do, the evidence suggests that good breathing exercises can help people to relax, sleep better, and breathe more naturally.