Struggling to get a good night's sleep from time to time is a common problem for us all. You might be excited over what tomorrow could bring or anxious about what you can expect the following morning. However, struggling with sleep should never be a chronic problem.
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation seems to be on the rise, with cases of chronic insomnia increasing year after year. In many cases, struggling with sleep can often be a case of struggling to deal with our stress and anxiety, causing tension in the body that makes it difficult for us to find that comfortable position for a good night's sleep.
Thankfully, there are ways that we can relax our bodies through breathing. In today’s blog, we’ll be showcasing some of the best techniques you can use to help your body relax, reduce tension in the body, and allow you to have a restful sleep.
A Few Tips
Before we dive in, it’s worth it to keep a few things in mind when using the breathing techniques detailed below:
- Like physical exercises, breathing exercises take a little bit of time to master before seeing the results you’d like. Give yourself time to practice and promote healthy habits.
- While breathing techniques are great, it’s worth it to think of your breathing as a tool that can be combined with other means to ensure a good result. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and giving yourself downtime away from a screen can be great ways to ensure your sleep improves overall.
- There is no “best” technique for rest and relaxation, only the one that works best for you.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at two of our favorite techniques:
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, creates 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 feel the rise and flow more easily.
- 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 facilitates relaxation in the body.
- Breathe through your nose while counting to four, making sure to keep your tongue at the top of your mouth.
- Hold that breath 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.