BY: TED BARNABY
If you’re like me, it probably takes you anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to fall asleep at night. However, I recently learned a breathing pattern that allows me to fall asleep in as little as a few minutes, and sometimes even under a minute.
Don’t get me wrong; this breathing pattern won’t immediately knock you out first try like some sort of breath anesthesia. It takes consistent practice to ease your body into developing a strong sedative reaction—however even beginners can use the technique to reduce stress, and fall asleep quicker.
To start off, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, where the curvature comes to an edge behind your front teeth. Then, with your mouth closed, inhale quietly through your nose for the count of four. Hold that breath for the count of seven, then exhale through your mouth loudly, creating a “whooshing” noise. Make sure your tongue remains in place the entire time. Without stopping, repeat this pattern for no more than four cycles.
For this technique, the speed of your breath doesn’t matter, so long as you maintain the proper ‘4,7,8’ ratio.
Breathe in for a count of 4
Hold breath for a count of 7
Breathe out for a count of 8
You will notice that this breathing pattern puts you into a pleasantly relaxed and sedated state of consciousness. However, these effects also begin to strengthen significantly with time and practice.
Dr. Andrew Weil, medical doctor, professor and best selling author, insists that this technique must be practiced at least twice a day for eight weeks, in order to reap the greatest benefits. After a month, he says, increase to eight breath cycles.
According to Weil, “By imposing certain rhythms on the breath with your voluntary system, gradually these are induced in the involuntary nervous-system.” In this way, the long term benefits are formed by training your body to completely relax itself every time you complete this breath cycle.
This technique can be applied to reduce anxiety, stress, or even cravings like cigarettes or junk food. Next time something stresses you out or aggravates you, take a brief moment to complete these breath cycles before you react to the situation. You’ll be amazed at your newfound clarity and calmness. As I said before, this technique is also incredibly effective for falling asleep quickly at night.
The reasoning for this is simple. As we know, anxiety and stress typically cause us to fall into a rapid, shallow breathing pattern. However, the opposite is also true: if we get into the habit of shallow breathing, stress will often follow. Oxygen, of course, is critical to maintaining the health of our body and mind, but moreover, the way we intake oxygen is just as important.
Like anything, this technique requires time and practice to reap the greatest benefits. But if you’re willing to dedicate about a minute a day to this breathing pattern, you’ll be amazed at how much control you can have over your emotional state.