Do you ever wish getting a good night of sleep could be as natural as breathing?
But wait—what if it was?
Deep, slow breathing can help to calm the mind, reduce stress, and put your body in chill mode. And if you’re like many Americans, you’ll take all the help you can get when it comes to improving your sleep.
So now it’s time to breathe, sleep, and repeat. Check out these 6 breathing techniques and get ready for some next-level rest.
1. 4-7-8 Breathing
Not a math whiz? Don’t worry—the 4-7-8 breathing technique doesn’t require any tricky equations. (Although attempting calculus could certainly be an effective way to help you doze off.) To try it:
- Gently part your lips, exhale, then press your lips together and inhale for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds, followed by an exhale for 8 seconds.
- Repeat four to eight times to add more oxygen to your blood and send you off to dreamland.
2. Bhramari Pranayama Breathing
Good news: you don’t have to know how to pronounce Bhramari pranayama to reap the benefits of this breathing technique. Also known as Humming Bee Breath, this simple method calms the mind, releases tension, and helps you get into that optimal state of chill for a good night of sleep. Here’s how it works:
- Close your eyes, cover your ears with your hands, and breathe in and out.
- Put your index fingers over your eyebrows, then let the other fingers rest over your eyes.
- Now push gently on the sides of your nose.
- Close your mouth, breathe slowly out of your nose, and make an “om” humming sound.
- Repeat 5 times.
3. Alternate Nostril Breathing
Yep, mindfulness is more than a buzzword—it’s also an effective way to start snoozing soon after your head hits the pillow. Sign us up! Alternate nasal breathing is one form of mindfulness that draws you away from a flurry of thoughts with a simple exercise:
- Cross your legs. Put your left hand on your left knee, and your right thumb against your nose.
- Exhale and close the right nostril.
- Inhale through the left nostril.
- Exhale through the right nostril again and close the left nostril.
- Repeat for 5 minutes, finishing off by exhaling through the left nostril.
4. Three-Part Breathing
Sometimes sleep is as easy as 1, 2, 3. And if you’re looking for something simple, this three-part technique is right up your alley:
- Inhale deeply.
- Exhale and focus on how your body feels.
- Repeat several times, then slow down to make the exhale twice as long as the inhale.
- Repeat a few more times until you feel more relaxed.
5. Kapalbhati Breathing
Into that mind/body/soul stuff? This one’s for you. Kapalbhati breathing proves that our physical habits have an impact on our health and well-being too. Try this exercise to open sinuses, improve concentration, and drift off to sleep faster:
- Sit with your spine straight, hands on knees, and palms facing the sky.
- Breathe in deeply.
- Contract your stomach and exhale in short bursts.
- Inhale quickly.
- Repeat 20 times.
6. Buteyko Breathing
Don’t forget it: shallow breathing is the enemy! If you find yourself taking short, shallow breaths frequently, you could be more prone to anxiety, stress, and even panic attacks. Yikes. Combat the issue with Buteyko breathing, which resets your breathing to a normal rhythm:
- Sit up in bed and gently close your mouth.
- Breathe through your nose for 30 seconds.
- Focus on your breathing and inhale and exhale through the nose one more time.
- Keep your mouth closed and pinch your nose with your fingers, hold it there until you feel like you need to take a breath.
- Take a deep breath in and out of your nose again.