We’ve all had trouble sleeping from time to time, but when it starts to become a continual issue, it’s time to seek a better solution.
Eye masks, sleeping pills and other sleep aids might help to ease symptoms, but they don’t always manage the underlying problem or give you a permanent, realistic solution you can maintain over the long term.
Breathing techniques for sleep, on the other hand, cost nothing, and you can easily integrate them into your routine without much extra effort or cost.
Countless sleep and breathing disorders keep people throughout America and around the world awake at night, from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA) to mixed sleep apnea, insomnia and more.
In fact, more than 70 different sleep disorders exist — we need to find a way to overcome the problem so we can all get a good night’s rest and wake up refreshed. While it may not seem like much, breathing techniques for sleep apnea and other disorders bring people relief on a regular basis.
Here are five techniques that can help you relax more and stay asleep at the end of even your most stressful days.
1. Use the 4-7-8 Technique
You might be surprised by how effective this relaxation breathing exercise is for both bedtime and stressful moments while you’re awake. First, sit up in bed with a straight back. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, directly behind your front teeth.
Stay in that position, close your mouth and inhale through your nose as you mentally count to four. Hold the breath for seven counts, then exhale through your mouth around your tongue for eight counts. Go through four breath cycles.
2. Try a Traditional Meditative Breathing Process
Many people know their sleep problems stem from the stress of a hectic lifestyle. Slowing down your anxious mind at the end of a long day can help you get a good night’s sleep even after your most frustrating days. Instead of letting thoughts bother you all night and affect the next day too, implement meditative practices.
The first step toward mindful meditation is to focus on your breathing. Pay 100 percent of your attention to the rise and fall of your breath. Concentrate on where the breath moves throughout your body, and connect with the motion.
You can effectively begin the relaxation process this way, and even your tensest muscles will follow suit. Stay focused on your breathing for eight to 10 minutes, and you should feel relaxed enough to fall asleep.
3. Alternate Nostrils for Breathing
Commonly used in yoga, Nadi Shodhana is a form of breath control. Alternate each of your nostrils for the inhale and exhale components of your breath so that your body and mind can achieve a sense of neutrality and balance. Mouth breathing subconsciously tells the brain that your body is stressed, whereas breathing through the nose sends signals of homeostasis and relaxation to the brain instead.
Use this exercise at night before bed. Sit in a position you’re comfortable in, keep your back straight and close off your left nostril with the right ring finger.
Inhale, then close off the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale. Keep your eyes closed throughout the process, and wait for your body and mind to feel more relaxed.
4. Enhance Your Exhale
Try doubling your exhale in relation to each previous inhale. Voluntary, slow breathing helps to reset your body’s nervous system. It synchronizes neural elements in the lungs, heart and brain.
Several practitioners have found that focusing on the count associated with breathing reduces occurrences of stressful thoughts.
To properly employ this method, lie on your back in a comfortable position in bed, inhale for three seconds and exhale for six seconds. Don’t stop after one cycle — keep it going until you’ve fallen asleep.
5. Get on Board with Belly Breathing
Also called abdominal breathing, this practice will help throughout your waking hours, too. Most of us are in the habit of shallow chest breathing — quick breaths that don’t reach down into the deepest parts of our lungs. The lack of deep breathing leaves us more drained and tense.
As much as possible, especially before bed, lie on your back and focus on deep breaths that expand your abdomen. Place both hands on your belly if you’re not positive you’re doing it right. If you feel it rising and falling, you’re on the way to a great night’s sleep.
With the help of these techniques, you will hopefully be able to fall into a sound, relaxed slumber night after night. Let us know which method worked best for you!
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