There is nothing worse than staying up all night in bed, trying to fall asleep and wishing you could rest because you have a hard day’s work ahead of you. Not being able to sleep at night is going to affect your performance throughout the next day and is detrimental not only to your physical health but also to your emotional well-being.
There is a lot of advice to end insomnia that I have heard throughout my life, advice that I don’t know if it would work for others, but for me it has no use. A glass of hot water before bed, an infusion of lime blossom, counting sheep… nothing at all.
However, it seems that the solution lies in learning to breathe. Today we will talk about the 4-7-8 method to fall asleep in less than a minute .
What is Method 4-7-8
Method 4-7-8 is one of the most powerful and effective relaxation techniques that can be practiced anywhere or anytime when one feels stressed or anxious. This technique is part of the breathing practice of Yoga (Pranayama), and was popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil (Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona). In fact, the psychological benefits of yoga are many, you can check it in our article: “The 6 psychological benefits of yoga”
This method is easy and simple to apply , requires little time to notice its effects, does not require any equipment to carry it out and can be practiced anywhere, not only in bed to combat insomnia, but also to relax, for example, when one attends an important job interview or a decisive test.
According to Dr. Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique helps people fall asleep in as little as 60 seconds by acting as a natural nervous system tranquilizer , which reduces stress and tension in the body.
How to do breathing 4-7-8
In order to use this method to fall asleep quickly , follow this sequence of steps:
- Get in a comfortable position: If it is to fight insomnia you can do it from your own bed. If you want to relax, you can use a meditation position when you decide to do your breathing. If you do not know how to meditate, we invite you to read our article: “How to learn to meditate, in 7 simple steps”.
- Press the tip of your tongue just above the front teeth, in the area of the oral cavity tissue. Keep it there during your breathing cycles.
- Breathe deeply through your nose for 4 seconds.
- You must hold your breath for 7 seconds by controlling the diaphragm.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. As you exhale, imagine the air coming out of the tip of your tongue that remains pressed into the tissue area behind your front teeth.
- Repeat the steps as many times as necessary. Generally, it is not necessary to perform more than 10 cycles in a row. If you feel dizzy, it is normal when you start practicing these techniques. This will disappear as you become more familiar with the method.
How it helps you get to sleep quickly
This technique allows you to introduce more oxygen into your body , which relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system and slows down your heart rate, promoting a state of calm. In this way, it rebalances the nervous system which can become over-stimulated during moments of stress.
When it’s time to go to sleep, insomnia can feed back the anxiety and stress load. When you can’t sleep, you breathe faster and can’t relax. Without a doubt, this technique is effective in making a connection between the body, the breath and the mind, and helps you to be more concentrated, away from those daily thoughts that prevent us from sleeping .
Also, taking deep breaths and holding them increases intra-abdominal pressure, thus stimulating the vagus nerve, which sends signals to the brain to reduce the body’s alertness and “fight or flight” characteristic of stressful situations.
You can learn more about how this technique works in the audiovisual content shown below:
Some tips for better sleep
This technique can be useful to relax at a certain moment and thus be able to find yourself in a better state to be able to fall asleep . However, insomnia is caused by a series of bad habits that harm both our physical and psychological health.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have difficulty sleeping and have been for several weeks, you may need to visit a professional who will help you manage the problems that are causing your insomnia. However, to help you sleep better, you can try a series of habits that will be useful. They are the following:
1. Take care of your diet
How we eat and what we eat can affect our sleep. A balanced diet, not eating copious dinners before going to bed or maintaining a more or less stable schedule of meals favours good sleep.
2. Take care of your environment
Environmental conditions influence the quality of sleep. Being in a room where you feel comfortable, with the TV off, or sleeping on a comfortable mattress with a suitable pillow make all the difference.
3. Don’t overdo it with your nap
Napping can be beneficial, for example, to perform better and be more productive. However, you should not nap too much, ideally for half an hour .
Physical exercise is healthy and also reduces stress and helps you fall asleep because you will be more tired after exercising.
- You can read more about these and other tips in our article: “Fighting insomnia: 10 solutions for better sleep”