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Breathe Deeply and Drift Off to Sleep within Minutes

By Sandy Schroeder

If you are among the many who wrestle with sleep every night, a simple breathing exercise might be a huge breakthrough.

"Since breathing is something we can control and regulate, it is a useful tool for achieving a relaxed, clear state of mind to help us sleep," explains Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, who understands that quality of sleep degrades as we get older and that insomnia is more common in women. recommends this exercise as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. If you have tried all sorts of medications and nightcaps to get to sleep, this exercise may be a big improvement. In contrast to sleep medications, which become addictive and lose power, this exercise gains strength with practice

The 4-7-8 Relaxing Breath Exercise

This simple breathing exercise takes little time and needs no equipment.

  • Position tip behind upper teeth against the ridge of tissue and keep it there
  • Exhale completely through the mouth with a whoosh sound
  • Close mouth and inhale through nose to a count of four
  • Hold the breath for a count of seven
  • Exhale completely through the mouth with a whoosh to a count of eight
  • Inhale again and repeat three more times

During the exercise, inhale quietly through the nose and exhale through the mouth with a whoosh. Keep the tip of the tongue in position the whole time. If it's difficult when you exhale, purse the lips. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep the 4:7:8 ratio.

More Help to Sleep Better

If sleep has always been a struggle these tips may help too.

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time seven days a week
  • Make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable
  • Develop a sleep ritual such as a warm bath or soft music
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet
  • Use air filters to clean the air and screen out noise
  • Don't allow pets to sleep with you
  • Power down electronics with blue lights like tablets or phones at least two hours before bedtime
  • If you can't give up your blue light devices, consider getting blue light blocking glasses
  • Cut off caffeine after lunch
  • Avoid stimulating shows, spicy foods, tobacco and alcohol right before bedtime

If sleep continues to be a problem you may want to check with your doctor to discuss the issue. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Phoenix, Ariz.

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