Falling asleep can often prove to be quite the task. More often than not, people find themselves in bed wither tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling for what feels like an eternity. According to a study by the American Sleep Association, about fifty to seventy million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder with insomnia ranking highest amongst the disorders. While sleep troubles can be attributed to many different factors like lifestyle, improper sleep environment, unbalanced diet, physical and mental health issues, to name a few, certain breathing exercises can help combat it to a certain degree. Focusing on breathing before bed calms both the body and mind, enabling them to sleep faster. Here are a few techniques that should help you drift into sleep faster.
1. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
Developed by Doctor Andrew Well, this technique enriches the body with oxygen and helps the body relax.
- To begin, part your slips slights and ensure the tip of the tongue touches the back of the upper front teeth throughout.
- Exhale through the mouth, making a ‘whooshing’ sound.
- Then close your mouth and inhale through the nose for four counts.
- Hold this breath for seven counts.
- Now, exhale through your mouth with the ‘whooshing’ sound, counting to eight. This routine marks one breath.
- Repeat the routine thrice more.
2. Alternating Nostril Breathing Technique
This routine is also referred to as Nadi shodana pranayama and involves inhaling through alternate nostrils. Breathing through the mouth is often an indication of strenuous activity, but breathing through the nose is more relaxing. To practice this routine, sit up in a relaxed position and breathe deeply through one nostril, while you block the other by pressing your finger against it. Release your finger when you exhale and repeat the exercise by now blocking the alternate nostril. You can repeat this exercise for up to five rotations.
3. Abdominal Breathing Technique
Lie down comfortably on your back on the bed and rest one hand on your lower abdomen. Place the other hand on your chest and take deep breaths. Ensure to inhale through your nose and exhale through your body. This exercise ensures deep breathing into the abdomen. The key here is to ensure your lower abdomen rises sufficiently as you inhale. Practice this technique for five to ten minutes every day and your body will automatically slow down as you do, helping you relax.
4. Meditative Breathing Exercise
A short period of meditation before bed can do wonders with its controlled breathing techniques. To meditate, sit down with a straight back and take deep breathes. Progressively lengthen the counts of your breath. Ensure to take a slight pause before you inhale or exhale. As you continue breathing, slowly let go off any tension in your body. You could also add a mantra/phrase into the breathing routine. Meditating for five to ten minutes should help ease into sleep.
A few other techniques that are also worth exploring are the visualizing breath technique, humming bee breath or the Brahmari, Buteyko breathing, box breathing and double exhalation. Practice any of the above-mentioned techniques over a period and you’ll find yourself falling asleep much easier.