Breathing techniques for better sleep

·2-min read

Winding down and getting some quiet time in the evening is often easier said than done.

But if you are struggling to doze off every night, there are some breathing techniques that may make a difference.

Elisabeth Clare, founder and director of MBST UK, has shared three ways focusing on the breath can help you on your way to a better snooze.

Military technique

First described in Lloyd Bud Winter's 1981 book Relax and Win: Championship Performance, the technique refers to a method used by U.S. Army soldiers to fall asleep in different conditions, such as battlefields.

"This method has become popular in recent years, as it promises sleep in under two minutes," she explained. "The so-called military technique involves calming the body and systematically focusing on relaxing and shutting down each part of your body from head to toe. The method is designed to be 'practised' nightly and then sleep should come easier each time, thanks to the meditation style breathing and mindfulness."

Learn 4-7-8 breathing

Developed by Dr Andrew Weil, a Harvard-trained medical doctor with a focus on holistic health, this method draws on some of the de-stressing elements of meditation, or the Pranayama, an ancient Indian practice which focuses on regulating the breath.

"This technique involves inhaling through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and then exhaling through your mouth making a whooshing noise for eight seconds. This is classed as one cycle. Continue to do this for 30 cycles - if you can get that far before nodding off!" the expert shared.

Guided meditation

Believe it or not, modern technology can also be useful in promoting sleep - with a number of apps and YouTube channels offering guided meditations inspired by yoga nidra or yogic sleep.

"These take you through a series of breathing exercises. They can help to calm the nervous system, allowing the body to enter into a complete state of relaxation and tranquillity," added Elisabeth.

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