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How to Use Your Breath to Promote Relaxation and Sleep

Made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique emphasizes a long, drawn-out exhale to slow the heart rate and calm our thoughts.

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The most powerful way to promote relaxation and sleep lies in our breath.

We spend a good deal of our life simply trying to control our minds. Our thoughts never cease, even when we sleep. 

One minute we’re engaged in the moment and the next we’re reliving a random encounter with a complete stranger that happened 6 years ago.

Letting our thoughts run the show not only hurts our concentration but it can actually harm our overall health. 

Especially when it comes to our sleep. 

Hit the Sheets

We spend about ⅓ of our lives sleeping. 

Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep a night for adults. However, several studies indicate about 50% of us sleep less than that. Most of us are in what we call “sleep debt”.

The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. It is perhaps the most important aspect of a healthy and happy life. If you need some convincing, read this

For the 50% of us who aren’t getting enough sleep, the most likely culprit is our own minds. 

We’ve all had those nights where our minds are racing a million miles a minute, bouncing from obscure thoughts to absurd worries. Or maybe you wake up suddenly at 3:00 am with a fantastic business idea. 

Either way, it’s almost always our thoughts that keep us up.

Thankfully, there are mechanisms in the body we can tap into that physiologically slow the mind down, allowing us to hit the sheets.

Breathe to Relieve

Perhaps the fastest and most effective way to influence the mind is with the breath. 

We know that certain breathing patterns regulate different bodily functions.

For instance, the physiological sigh reinflates the air sacks in our lungs and slows the heart rate down, promoting a sense of calm and reducing anxiety. 

Techniques like box breathing can heighten focus and performance while simultaneously reducing stress. It’s a popular method for people in high-stress situations like Navy Seals and Doctors. 

For slowing the mind down and promoting sleep, we’ve got the 4-7-8 method. 

Made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique emphasizes a long, drawn-out exhale to slow the heart rate and calm our thoughts. 

This pattern of breathing is backed by a few scientific studies and a ton of anecdotal evidence. Proponents say that the first few times you practice it you don’t really feel anything, but after a few days of practice, you’ll fall asleep within minutes. 

I utilize this method myself with some pretty grand results and now want to share it with all of you.

Learn how to use the breath to promote sleep and relaxation in this free guided exercise.

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