If you are super-friendly with your snooze button, nod off throughout the day, or toss and turn at bedtime, you might be one of millions of adults with a sleep or wakefulness disorder. Sleep deprivation can especially affect our risk of getting sick, our memory and even decrease our libido.
Luckily, there is no shortage of tips on how to improve your bedtime habits. But if you’ve grown weary (or not weary enough) from trying warm milk, reading and counting sheep to speed up a restful night, perhaps trying breathing techniques could lead to some success. These exercises are geared toward slowing the mind down and relaxing the body so you can achieve the good night’s sleep you need.
Get ready for restful slumber with the 4-7-8 exercise. Close your eyes and place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of tissue just above your two front teeth. All inhales will be done through the nose and exhales will be done audibly through the mouth.
Expel all of the air from your lungs. Start an inhale through your nose as you mentally count to four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale the air through your mouth for a count of eight, making a “whoosh” sound. Repeat each full breath for a total of 4 breaths. With continued practice, you can increase your number of breaths to 8, but be mindful of becoming lightheaded, as you may not be used to this type of breathing.
Perfect for challenging a wandering mind, breath counting keeps you in the moment. Become comfortable, close your eyes and breathe in a normal, relaxed manner. Count to 1 during your first exhale. Count to 2 during your second exhale. Repeat this all the way up to 5, and then start back at 1 if you need to keep going. If you suddenly find yourself on 9, 14 or 22 you will know your mind has wandered and to bring it back to 1.
Deep Throat Breathing
This yoga technique can be done lying down comfortably settled with legs spread slightly apart and arms resting at your side. Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. After a few breaths, constrict your throat so your inhales produce an audible, wave-like sound. Using this type of breath, count to 4 as you inhale. Hold your breath for 4 counts. Exhale through your nose, using the same wave-like technique, for 4 counts.
During your next breath, inhale for a count of 6, hold your breath for 6 counts and exhale for 6 counts. Increase each breath by 2 counts until you have reached your limit, at which time you will decrease your counts by 2 with each breath. Once you return to 4 counts, return to your normal breathing and prepare for sweet, sweet slumber.
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