The 4-7-8 breathing technique can help you fall asleep

September 19, 2022 – If you’re too stressed to sleep, taking the time to practice a breathing regimen with ancient roots could help you find your way to the land of sleep.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique was popularized by Andrew Weil, MD, founder of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, but it is based on pranayama, the yogic practice of regulating breathing, CNN reported.

“What sleep disorders are is that people have trouble falling asleep because their minds are buzzing,” said Rebecca Robbins, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an associate scientist in the division of sleep disorders. and circadians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Boston, told CNN. “But drills like the 4-7-8 technique give you the opportunity to practice being at peace. And that’s exactly what we need to do before we go to bed.”

Weil’s website provides these instructions: Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth and hold it there throughout the exercise. This will cause you to exhale through your mouth around your tongue and inhale through your nose. Exhale fully with a breath sound, then inhale through your nose for a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale through your mouth with a whoosh sound for a count of eight.

Repeat this cycle three more times.

“If you have trouble holding your breath, speed up the exercise but stick to the 4:7:8 ratio for all three phases,” Weil’s website says. “This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”

Raj Dasgupta, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, told CNN that the 4-7-8 technique appears to activate a person’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion. The technique reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your fight or flight response.

While many people swear by the 4-7-8 technique, its effectiveness isn’t backed by much scientific research.

Breathing exercises of all kinds help people relax and fall asleep, said Kelly Waters, MD, sleep medicine physician at Spectrum Health. Prevention.

“The repetitive nature of the breathing techniques is ideal for the final stages of installation,” she said. “The first stage of sleep is called the ‘hypnosis’ stage, and these types of breathing techniques allow for a type of self-hypnosis.”

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