Sleep deprivation has been on the rise in recent years, with more and more people struggling to get adequate sleep during nightly hours. While there are a lot of different factors that contribute to your quality of sleep, such as the time you go to bed, the food you eat and when, and how routine your nights are, one of the most critical factors in sleeping is something much more straightforward - breathing.
Shallow breathing is often a crucial part of poor sleeping and arguably does more to ruin your slumber than any other activity. So in today’s blog, we’re going to go through the best breathing exercises you can use to help get a better night’s sleep.
So, without further ado - let’s get to it!
Put simply; a body scan involves focusing on your breath while simultaneously relaxing your muscles. The technique was developed as a type of mindfulness meditation and has proven effective in improving sleep.
The technique is as follows:
- Lay down in your bed, or wherever you do your best sleeping and get comfortable.
- Take note of your body and consciously choose to feel each extremity. Start from your head and work down to your toes.
- As you notice areas of tension in your body, direct your breath to that spot with every inhale and exhale. Of course, we don’t mean you should be blowing air on these spots but instead direct your energy as you breathe.
- If your attention wanders, take note and bring your focus gently to the sensations in your body.
Your diaphragm is the large muscle at the base of your lungs and is a vital part of the machinery for breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is done to create negative pressure in the space in the lining of your lungs - the pleural cavity. When put in this state, your body increases blood flow to the heart, thus decreasing your heart rate and creating a calming sensation in your body.
It goes as follows:
- Begin by focusing your breathing through your belly rather than your chest. To aid yourself, place your hand on your belly to more easily feel the rise and flow.
- Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before exhaling.
- Keep this up for 5-10 minutes, or until you’re ready to sleep.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a modern form of pranayama and involves slow, controlled, deep breathing that lowers blood pressure and is adept at facilitating relaxation in the body.
The technique goes like this:
- Breathe through your nose while counting to four, making sure to keep your tongue at the top of your mouth.
- Hold that breathe for seven seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight seconds.
This technique is commonly taught in yoga and is vital to meditative practices that require the body to stay relaxed.
For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks. For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here.
And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.