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Sleep like a baby with these 4 simple breathing techniques

Have trouble sleeping every night? Try these breathing techniques for a restful sleep.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : July 7, 2015 10:29 AM IST

If you find yourself tossing and turning on the bed even after a hard day s work, wake up frequently in the middle of the night and find it difficult to sleep again, then there is one thing you should do breathe easy. Believe it or not, your breathing is the natural, effective and best sleep medicine you can rely on to enjoy eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and wake up rejuvenated the next morning. Here are seven simple tips for a good night s sleep.

Here are few breathing techniques that can help:

The 4-7-8 breathing technique

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This is one of the most primitive and common technique practised by people all around the globe. This technique helps to relax, calm down your tensed muscles and wash out the stress in your mind and body to help you sleep well. Here are five ways sleep works wonders for your body.

How to do it:

  • Choose a comfortable place to sit, preferably your bed, so that you can fall asleep easily when you feel relaxed. Though, you can also do it sitting on a couch.
  • First, exhale through your mouth making a whoosh sound.
  • Next, close your mouth and inhale through your nose counting up to 4.
  • Hold your breath for the count of 7.
  • Then slowly exhale counting up to 8.
  • Repeat the entire sequence at least four to five times to feel relaxed and to help your body tune into the cosy sleep mode.

4-7-8 breathingMeditative breathing

The word meditation doesn t appeal to many. But in its true essence, meditation is another name for corrective breathing that relaxes the mind-body-soul and induces a restful sleep. Here are few foods that also help you to sleep better.

How to do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with legs folded, spine straight and chin upright.
  • Close your mouth, and breathe through your nose.
  • Follow, your breathing. Remember, as you breathe your stomach should expand out.
  • Hold your breath for few seconds till you are comfortable and then exhale slowly.
  • As you breathe in and out, be watchful of every breath you take. Try to feel the rise and fall of your diaphragm, ease the tensed muscles and relax your joints. This will help you let go of your negative emotions and stressful thoughts that make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • The idea is to give a boost of oxygen to your body and help your cells revive and relax.

meditative breathingTry Anulom Vilom

Yoga has a lot of benefits and can also help you correct your sleep cycles. However, if you are not into yoga, you can start with this simple exercise to help your body relax and fall asleep easily.

How to do it:

  • Sit with your legs crossed and be comfortable. Keep your spine straight and chin parallel to the floor.
  • Next, place your hands on your knees with palms facing the ceiling. Bring one hand close to your face and place the thumb on one nostril with your index finger folded. Always start with the right nostril.
  • Keep your ring finger extended so that it can be used to close the other nostril. Do not lift your elbow too high, your hand will get fatigued after a while.
  • Now inhale deeply through one nostril while keeping the other one closed with your finger. Then open the other nostril and close the one you breathed in with your ring finger. Exhale slowly. This is one cycle.
  • To start the next cycle, breathe in through the same nostril that you exhaled out of and repeat the process. Practise this asana for about three minutes initially gradually increasing the amount of time to 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Always keep your eyes closed while performing this asana. This asana helps to achieve a sense of balance as you inhale and exhale using one nostril each.
  • However, remember not to go to bed directly after doing this asana. The benefit of this asana is best derived when done on the empty stomach or five to six hours after having a meal. Anulom vilom is a type of pranayama that helps in better oxygen intake and hence relaxes your body preparing it to sleep better. Keep a gap of 15-20 minutes between the asana and your bed-time.

Anulom VilomExtended exhalation

The best part about this exercise is that you can do it lying down in your bed and repeat it several times until you fall asleep. In this method, you take double the time to exhale as compared to what you took to inhale the air. Slow exhalation is believed to synchronise the nerves in the heart, lung, limbic system and brain that help you to relax and prepare your body for a good night s sleep.

How to do it:

  • Lie down in your bed on your back, keep your hands at your side and relax your body, particularly your joints.
  • Next, inhale through your nose to a count that s comfortable for you. Then slowly exhale doubling that count. For example, if you inhale to the count of three then exhale to the count of six.
  • At any point in time don t try to push your limits too much. Do what feels comfortable to you. Keep repeating the technique till you fall asleep.

extended exhalationIf you know, a better way to induce sleep naturally and that has worked wonders for you, share your sleep secret with us. Leave your message in the comments below.

Image source: Shutterstock

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1: Jerath R, Edry JW, Barnes VA, Jerath V. Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(3):566-71. Epub 2006 Apr 18. PubMed PMID: 16624497. 

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