Breathing Exercises to Help You Sleep

There’s nothing worse than waking up feeling even less well rested than the day before. Not only does lack of sleep affect your day to day, it can have a severe impact on your overall health. Poor sleeping habits can increase your risk of various health conditions like heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Try these breathing exercises before bed to help you feel more relaxed and help you to sleep better and longer.

#1: 4-7-8
This breathing exercise is based on an ancient Indian practice called “pranayama” which means “regulation of breath”. It helps the nervous system calm down and promotes a state of relaxation that is needed for sleep. The most important part of this breathing exercise is holding your breath when required. This allows the oxygen to fill your lungs and then circulate through your body, producing a relaxing effect.

How you do it: You can do this exercise sitting up or laying down. Begin by exhaling completely through your mouth, letting all the air out of your lungs. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts. Exhale completely through your mouth for eight counts. This is one breath. Repeat the whole cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

#2: Breath Counting
This breathing exercise is actually a form of meditation, but it helps the body to achieve a total zen feeling. Try this 10 minute exercise just before you lay down for bed and let the calming effects wash over your body.

How you do it: Begin by sitting in a comfortable position, making sure your spine is straight and your head tilted slightly forward. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths to prepare your body. After this, let your breaths come naturally. On your next exhale count “one” to yourself. Inhale normally and then count “two” on your next exhale. On the next exhale count “three”. Count your next two exhales up to “four” and “five”. Start back over at “one” on your sixth exhale. Repeat the cycle for 10 minutes. You’ll know when your mind begins to wander if you find yourself counting higher than five. If this happens, don’t worry, just bring your attention back to your breath.

 #3: Yoga Breathing
This breathing exercise, commonly practiced in various types of yoga as the name may suggest, is great for promoting relaxation and calming effects on the body. Do this exercise right before bed to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

How to do it: Sit in a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths. Begin by placing your right thumb over your right nostril as you breathe in through your left nostril. For your exhale, take your right ring finger and place it on your left nostril so that you exhale from the right one. For the next breath, leave your ring finger on your left nostril and inhale from the right nostril. Place your thumb on your right nostril and exhale through the left. Keep switching back and forth, following your breaths. Repeat for about five minutes.