Breathing Exercises to Fall Asleep Faster
If there’s one activity you have time for before you sleep, it’s breathing! Since you’re already breathing, it takes no additional time and little effort to do it consciously. And it can make the difference between lying in bed wide awake or drifting off to sleep peacefully.
Breathing exercises are proven to reduce stress and heart rate, helping the body relax more quickly. Since deep breathing techniques affect the autonomic nervous system, there’s promise that difficulties with sleep, including insomnia, can be treated with deep breathing exercises.
And a bonus is that you can do it while lying in bed. So let’s take a look five simple but potent breathing exercises to help you get to sleep.
Effective breathing exercises to drift off to sleep
When practicing any of the following breathing exercises, make sure you’re lying down comfortably.
Belly breathing is a popular technique for calming the body and mind. The purpose is to deepen the amount of air intake while expanding the belly to slow the breath down. This provides a much-needed respite after long periods of shallow breathing that most of us unknowingly do throughout the day.
Inhale through the nose for five counts while expanding the abdomen, then exhale slowly through the mouth for seven counts while pushing the air out of the belly. Inhale again allowing the abdominal muscles to soften and relax. When you exhale, tighten the abdomen enabling it to relax more fully on the next breath. Repeat for two to five minutes.
If you want an easy tool that allows you to visually see when to take a breath or exhale try Relax Melodies. All the breathing techniques are paired with relaxing sounds to make the experience even more soothing.
Ratio breathing is a simple way to slow down the breath with the easy-to-remember 1:2 ratio.
Inhale through the nose slowly for four counts, then exhale through the mouth slowly for eight counts. Continue as long as you would like, gradually letting go of mentally counting.
Mind Reset Breathing
Evidence shows that regulating the breathing with brief periods of breath retention synchronizes the nervous system and surrounding tissues. This allows the body’s processes that don’t require conscious effort – like the heart rate – to regulate naturally, calming the body and mind.
To do this inhale through the nose for four counts, hold the breath for four counts, exhale through the mouth for four counts, and again hold the breath for four counts. Repeat four times.
This breath exercise was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, based on ancient yogic pranayama techniques. This exercise combines the relaxation of the ratio breathing but adds breath retention for seven counts to give the body a boost in oxygen.
Inhale for four counts through the nose, hold the breath for seven counts, then exhale through your mouth making a “whooshing” sound for eight counts. Repeat this cycle eight times.
Body Relaxation Breathing
If body tension keeps you awake, then this exercise is for you. The body relaxation breathing exercise will allow your entire body to let go of built up tension helping you fall asleep .
Inhale through the nose focusing on the top of your head, exhale slowly through the mouth visualizing the head, face, and neck becoming deeply relaxed. Gradually make your way down to every area of the body on each breath. We dare you to stay awake long enough to make it to your toes!
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