You came back home after a long day, took a warm shower, and finally went to bed. But, the moment your head hits the pillow, rather than falling asleep, you start remembering about all the tasks you left incomplete or the email you forgot to send to your supervisor. Sounds familiar? Well, don’t worry because you are not alone.
Not being able to sleep at night might have something to do with how you breathe. Studies show that breathing correctly has the power to reduce stress, lower cortisol levels, and trigger our bodies’ natural relaxation response. However, doing so makes it harder to experience these advantages. Did you know that trying some basic breathing exercises can actually help you with that?
Additionally, practicing effective breathing every night helps you enter a meditative state by getting your brain to focus on your breath instead of your to-do list. If you’re confused about where to start, try these breathing exercises to sleep. It’s worth trying your own breathing techniques to find what works.
How Can Breathing Techniques Help You Sleep Better?
You must be wondering that you already breathe all the time, so how can you be doing it wrong, or how can it affect your sleep? Well, it all depends on the way you breathe. Research shows several advantages to deep breathing before bedtime due to the calming effect of breathing exercises:
- Enhances Blood Flow: When you breathe deeply, your diaphragm’s upward and downward motion aids in the removal of toxins from the body, improving blood flow.
- Increases Energy Levels: As blood flow increases, more oxygen enters our blood, increasing energy levels. Yes, energy levels rise when oxygen levels rise.
- Natural Painkiller: Endorphins, the feel-good hormones released by deep breathing, are natural painkillers produced by the body. So maybe it’s time to say goodbye to Tylenol?
- Improved Posture: Contrary to popular belief, improper breathing is linked to poor posture. If you’re not convinced, give it a shot. Deepen your breathing; while you do so, pay attention to how your body begins to straighten. The act of breathing causes your spine to straighten in reflex as you fill your lungs with air.
- Reduces Anxiety: Deep breathing lowers blood pressure, increases oxygen absorption, and ultimately tells the brain to relax. It also regulates your hormones, reducing cortisol levels and boosting endorphin release.
5 Best Breathing Techniques To Help You Sleep
Now that you know some of the ways in which breathing exercises can benefit you, why not learn more about them. You can relax before bed and minimize tension and anxiety by practicing these breathing techniques. Simply perform all seven of the breathing techniques listed below to help your mind and body to relax and facilitate sleep.
Belly Breathing: This technique, a variation of diaphragmatic breathing, calls for deep belly breathing.
- Place your palm on your abdomen as you do this, allowing your belly to inflate into your palm on the inhale and compress into your palm on the exhale.
- Put your hands on your tummy while sitting up straight in a comfortable chair, or you can lie down if that is more comfortable.
- Shut your mouth and inhale deeply through your nose slowly. You want your abdomen to expand like a balloon as you take a breath in.
Square Breathing: Also known as box breathing, square breathing is a deep breathing method that can make you slow down your breathing. It makes you count to four, which diverts your attention, calms your nervous system, and reduces tension.
- Close your eyes and gently count to four while inhaling through your nose. As the air enters your lungs, feel it.
- Hold your breath while slowly counting to four, and avoid closing your lips or nostrils.
- Simply hold your breath for four seconds without inhaling or exhaling, and then start to release for four seconds slowly.
- Yoga Nidra: Some people have found that Yoga Nidra helps them sleep. With Yoga Nidra, your goal is to enter a deep level of conscious awareness sleep, which is a deeper state of relaxation with alertness. It’s similar to meditation but different in that you’re lying down. Additionally, Yoga Nidra is typically quite organized.
- In order for your breath to slow down and get even, all you need to do is become aware of it.
- Choose a guided Yoga Nidra video from any app or website of your choosing, then adhere to the instructions until you nod off.
4–7–8 Breathing: When you lie down at night, the 4–7–8 approach compels your mind and body to concentrate on controlling your breath rather than reliving your problems.
- On the count of four, seal your lips and take a deep breath through your nostrils. Be careful to inhale until you feel as though your abdomen is fully inflated with air like a balloon.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds, then let it out entirely through your mouth with a whooshing noise for eight counts.
This breathing technique will calm you down and help you sleep better. Few proponents of this technique assert that the method speeds up the process of falling asleep.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing: This technique, sometimes referred to as Nadi Shodhana, is regularly performed during yoga to balance and relax the right and left sides of our brains. You must use this technique while sitting upright on the edge of the bed with your feet flat on the ground.
- Inhale through the right nostril while covering it with your thumb, then exhale through the left nostril while covering it with your ring and pinky fingers.
- Exhaling through the right nose while covering the left, repeat the process while inhaling through the left nose.
This method can also help you fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Exhale Your Sleep Troubles!
Try one of the seven breathing techniques listed above the next time you have trouble falling asleep. If you continue to have sleep problems, think about seeing a doctor to figure out whether there is an underlying reason for your poor sleep or insomnia.
However, if your sleep problems are because of a completely different reason, like maybe a snoring partner, we have a smart solution for that too. Smart Nora is an anti-snoring device that will adjust the position of your partner’s pillow the second it detects any snoring sound, giving you a much-needed good night’s sleep.