Do you have trouble sleeping? Does an anxious mind keep you awake far after the day is done? You’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people struggle with poor sleep or insomnia.
Everyone has heard of the old counting sheep trick for falling asleep, but it rarely works. However, the 4-7-8 breathing trick can help reduce anxiety and promote better sleep.
What Is the 4-7-8 Breathing Method?
The 4-7-8 method is an exercise that entails breathing in for four counts, holding that breath for seven counts, and exhaling for eight counts. This breathing method is designed to bring the body into a state of relaxation.
The 4-7-8 method has ancient origins in pranayama, which is a yogic practice of breath regulation. The 4-7-8 breathing method forces the brain to focus on breathing and re-center your psyche into the here and now. This can quell racing thoughts or anxiety at bedtime.
Though the 4-7-8 method isn’t clinically proven to help sleep, many have benefited from its soothing effects. It’s easy to try and certainly worth a shot for more restful sleep!
How to Perform the 4-7-8 Method
When first practicing this technique, you should sit up straight with your back against a firm surface, such as a wall. Make sure your setting is peaceful, quiet, and dimly lit. During the exercise, be sure to place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of flesh behind your upper teeth, as you’ll be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue.
Then, simply relax and follow the below steps:
- Fully exhale through your mouth. This should make a whooshing noise.
- Close your mouth, and quietly inhale through the nose for a count of four. You can count in your head.
- Hold your breath for a mental count of 7 seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth, controlling the exhale to last 8 seconds.
- Repeat this process three or four more times.
After practicing the 4-7-8 method you may instantly feel more relaxed, though it may take a few practice runs to get it right.
The 4-7-8 method is a yogic practice used to calm the mind and regulate breathing. This practice can help those who struggle to get to sleep at night or suffer from racing thoughts. Your mental health has a big impact on your quality of sleep and methods like the 4-7-8 can help improve your mental well-being, therefore promoting better sleep.