How To Breathe Your Way To A Good Night’s Sleep


Sleep aids, tips, and techniques generate a lot of discussion and dollars in our culture. Most of us have learned to wind down, and skip tobacco, alcohol and screen time right before bed.

But many of us are still looking for that magic sleep button that really works. When we sleep well anything is possible. When we don’t, well that’s another story!

Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. may offer one of the simplest and easiest solutions of all. Use your breath. He suggests using this exercise to drift off to sleep, releases tension and helps you cope with life.

The Andrew Weil 4-7-8 Technique

When you start, to learn the technique, sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth and keep it there. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue. If that is hard to do you can purse your lips to help.

Exhale completely through your mouth in a whoosh. Close your mouth. Inhale quietly through your nose and mentally count to four.

Hold your breath to a count of seven.

Exhale in one large breath with a whoosh through your mouth for eight seconds.

Inhale again and repeat three times for a total of four breaths.

Dr. Weil recommends practicing twice a day and using this technique to fall asleep, cope with food cravings, and release tension.

Wherever you are in the sleep success process, I think this technique is well worth trying. And if it works for sleep, it might also help calm your day and help you skip those extra pastries in the morning or chips in the afternoon. Many times I have worried my way through a tension filled day, doing a lot of stress eating along the way, as I fielded one problem after another. Then, totally exhausted, I often found it almost impossible to just switch over to sleep at night. This completely portable breathing release offers a simple way to cope.

I think this might also be true if you have a senior in your household who is fighting insomnia. As people age sometimes sleep becomes more and more elusive. But learning to use breath to calm down and relax could make things easier.

It can also help them as they deal with disabilities, stress and other daily challenges. I knew an older lady who was quite intense and had a vivid imagination. She could turn a small event into a full blown catastrophe instantly. But then she learned to stop and breathe and use her breath to refocus her world. It was wonderful to watch the difference. 

As always if you are having sleep issues that do not improve, see your doctor for assistance.


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