Quality sleep is so important for a healthy mind and body, but everything from stress to bright screens often prevent this from happening. For those that find it difficult encouraging their body into a relaxed state each night, these cleansing breathing exercises are likely to be able to really help.
The 4-7-8 Technique
The 4-7-8 technique works wonders when it comes to relaxing the body, and while it is perfect to use before bed, you can also try this whenever you find yourself feeling quite stressed. This is an easy technique to master, and simply requires you to first press the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind your front teeth. While holding this position, breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold that breath for seven counts, and then exhale through your mouth for eight counts. Repeat this pattern three more times, so that you have done four cycles in total, before taking a break and then trying again if you are still awake.
A Double Exhale
This breathing technique stems from yoga, and requires you to exhale for double the length of your inhale. Studies have shown that this form of slow, cleansing breathing is able to help reset the body’s nervous system, synchronizing the heart, lungs and brain. In addition to this, by focussing on your breathing and counting your breaths, you will soon find your mind clear of any stressful thoughts.
Meditation is one of the best ways to relax the mind and body, and focussing on breathing is usually the first step to any meditation technique. While in bed, focus on the rise and fall of each breath that you take, feeling the breath move within your body. This will help your muscles to relax, while removing any negative thoughts or emotions from your mind. This breathing exercise should be repeated for around ten minutes for full benefits.
Breathing through the mouth sends a signal to your brain that your body is stressed, whereas breathing through your nose sends out signals of relaxation and calmness. To practice this technique, sit up straight in bed and close off your left nostril with your ring finger. Inhale deeply, before closing off your right nostril for the exhale. This technique is another that comes from yoga, and is called Nadi Shodhana, one of the most common forms of breath control. The way in which this technique alternates each nostril is said to help the body achieve a sense of balance, which should help you to fall asleep in no time at all.
In the USA alone, more than 40 million people suffer from a chronic sleep disorder each year, with an addition 20 million people experiencing occasional sleep difficulties. In addition to practicing these breathing exercises each night, you should also try to make your bedroom as calm and relaxing as possible, removing any electronic devices and bringing in influences that will help you to relax, whether this be an aroma diffuser with calming essential oils, or soft gentle music to lull you to sleep.