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Falling asleep should be something that everyone can look forward to after a long day at work, but that isn't always the case.

Reasons like stress and insomnia can result in a horrendous nights sleep with some people getting barely any shut-eye no matter how much they try to relax.

Medicine and sleeping pills can help but can have dangerous side effects so are best avoided unless advised otherwise by medical professionals. Then there are more unusual ways of dropping off like podcasts.

However, one thing that is rarely practiced in Western medicine is holistic breathing techniques; they are primarily used to combat stress and anxiety but can be used to help people with their sleeping problems.

One particular technique which can apparently help people fall asleep in under 60 seconds is called the "4-7-8" exercise.

The incredibly simple exercise has been championed by best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil and it goes a little something like this.

  • Place the tip of your tongue on the tissue ridge on your upper front teeth and keep it there for the remainder of the exercise.
  • Then exhale through your mouth, making a "whoosh" sound as you do.
  • Follow this by closing your mouth and slowly breath in through your nose and count to four.
  • Next, you'll need to hold your breath for the count of seven.
  • Exhale for the count of eight and make the same "whoosh" sound that you did in step two.
  • Then repeat this exact cycle three more times.

The science behind the technique is that it allows a person to take in more oxygen on the four-count, which then flows through the bloodstream more easily on the seven-count.

The eight-count then slows the heart down and releases more carbon dioxide into the lungs and after four cycles you should be in the land of Nod.

Another person who swears by this method is writer Alina Gonzalez who penned an article about it for The Thirty.

Gonzalez explains how stressed she was in the week leading up to her best friends wedding and she was recommended 4-7-8 by a friend.

She writes:

To me, the effect of the breathing technique feels almost like a sedative drug, because in order to hold your breath for seven seconds and then to exhale for eight—when your breath is so shallow and short—your body is forced to slow your heart rate.

It has no choice. Holding your breath, and then slowly, deliberately exhaling for eight seconds, causes a chain reaction.

It feels like going from a mad-dash sprint to a finish line to a slow, leisurely, calming stroll through the park.

That's sounds lovely.

So, next time you are struggling to fall asleep or are consumed with stress give this a go because we'll definitely be trying it out.

HT Time

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