There are many things you can begin doing to help get to sleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep, such as cutting out screen time before bed, drinking warm water or herbal tea, avoiding food, and meditating. But if those things don’t work for you or you are looking for a quick option to try, we have an interesting breathing technique that may help. It’s called the “4-7-8 trick” and it’s been around for a very long time. Although it’s not really a ‘trick,’ it’s something many of us might not know about and has some science behind it. It’s a breathing technique many yogis and monks use in their own practice. 1. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds. 2. Hold that breath for 7 seconds. 3. Breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat a few times. According to Harvard-educated wellness practitioner Dr. Andrew Weil, who studies the ways in which meditation and breathing can be used to counteract stress, this technique helps to slow down your heart rate and release soothing chemicals in your brain, creating a natural tranquilizer effect.
The reason many of us benefit from this technique is that we are chronically stressed. Many times we go to bed stressed out or worrying about things that we did earlier in the day. This can often lead to the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) into our blood, which is linked to an inability to fall asleep at night and a poor quality of rest. It is said that in order to reduce cortisol levels one must reduce their stress and relax, and one of the best ways to do that is through meditation or breathing techniques like the one we discussed above. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of meditation on not only stress but many other areas of life. Since sleep is an incredibly important part of our lives that we must take care of, making sure we take the time to figure out our sleep and de-stress is something we shouldn’t simply ignore. Cumulative sleep debt has been linked to a decrease in brain and cognitive function, mood swings, poor muscle and body recovery, and more. You can read more about cumulative sleep debt here. H/T: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/VDR00160/Dr-Weils-Breathing-Exercises-4-7-8-Breath.html .
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