Updated: Jun 23
Quietening the mind enough to induce sleep can be difficult for a lot of people. After a day busy with work, family, friends and life our brains can be very active and it can be hard to switch our bodies into a more relaxed state.
Do you find that you relive your day, just as your head hits the pillow? If this is you, you are not alone! Over 30% of the population have difficulty falling asleep. Have you tried drinking soothing tea, taking melatonin doing meditation and it still does not work?
Breathing exercises could help you fall asleep faster, because it calms the central nervous system by letting your brain know its time to calm down. The rhythmic breathing in and out slows the heart rate and may cause your blood pressure to drop as it relaxes you. Breathing concentrates the brain distracting it from idle thoughts and needless chatter.
Here are 5 different breathing methods to try:
4-7-8 breathing technique by Dr. Andrew Weil - Inhale for 4, hold your breath for seven, exhale for 8. Repeat this Three times. With this method the mind is focused on counting reps.
Three-Part Breathing Exercise - Take a long deep inhale, exhale fully and focus on your body and how it feels. After doing this a few times then focus on a longer exhale, twice as long as your inhale. This method is very simplistic so appeals to some people because of this.
Alternate Nasal Breathing (nadi shodhana pranayama) - In a seated position with legs crossed. Place left hand on your knee and left thumb against your nose. Exhale fully and close the right nostril, breath through the left nostril, close the left nostril with middle finger, open the right nostril and exhale. Do this for a few minutes. According to recent studies people felt less stressed with this method.
The Papworth Method (focuses on diaphragm breathing) - Sit against a wall or in bed. Take a deep breath in for 4 through mouth or nose and exhale through your nose. While breathing in and out focus on your abdomen rising and falling. Pay attention to your breath from your stomach. This method is a more natural way of breathing.
Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise - Close eyes and concentrate on breathing deeply in and out. Cover ears with your hands. Above each eyebrow place one index finger and the rest of your fingers over the eyes. Next put gentle pressure on either sides of your nose and focus on your brow area. With your mouth closed, breath out slowly through your nose, while making the "om" sound. Repeat five times. This method reduces the rate of the breath and heart rate so has a calming effect.
Whichever method appeals to you practice consistently every night before sleep. This helps you condition the body and practice makes perfect!
Sleep well my friends.