Whether you’re addicted to your smartphone and can’t put it down or your brain is reeling thinking about wedding planning or how you’re struggling to find work-life balance, falling asleep can be way too hard sometimes. It’s totally not your fault either — stress has been proven to send your body into fight or flight mode, which makes zoning out pretty much impossible. Great news though: We just found an amazing new trick that will totally help you fall asleep FAST. So instead of dreading the rollercoaster of emotions that come with ending your day, plan to try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise tonight.
Best-selling author and Harvard Medical School graduate Dr. Andrew Weil is a raving fan of using the breathing tactic to fall asleep, and has been quoted as saying, “Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. By simply focusing your attention on your breathing, and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation.” Though we do yoga from time to time, we’d totally be fibbing if we said we’ve made best use of our breathing techniques when it comes time to decompress at the end of the day and catch some zzz’s.
Endorsed by both Dr. Weil and Oprah, perfecting the powers of the 4-7-8 technique is a good idea for anyone who suffers from anxiety or emotions like anger, frustration and guilt at bedtime. The best news of all? You don’t need to be a master meditator or devout yogi for a successful night of sleep. All it takes is six simple steps to go back to the basics and breathe yourself into a state of deep relaxation.
HOW TO DO THE 4-7-8 EXERCISE
1. Get ready. Press the top of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, above the top of your front teeth, and hold it there for the following five steps.
2. Exhale. Breathe out completely through your mouth to start.
3. Inhale. Close your mouth all the way and breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to four in your mind.
4. Hold your breath. Mentally count to seven.
5. Exhale again. Breathe out through your mouth as you mentally count to eight.
6. Repeat! Go through the process a total of four times.
The trick works by helping under-breathers take in more oxygen with the four-count inhale, while the seven-count hold is the amount of time your body needs for oxygen to reach your blood stream. The last part of the exercise, the eight-count exhale, is designed to release carbon dioxide from your lungs, while slowing down your heart rate. Practice this and you’ll be well on your way to falling sleep FAST, which will come with benefits like boosted energy, killer focus, major productivity and improved overall health.
Feeling skeptical? Try the 4-7-8 exercise tonight and tell us how it goes on Twitter @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty, h/t Motto by Time)