You’ve tried everything, relaxing aromas, ASMR, sleeping pills, even counting sheep! Many people struggle sleeping so turn to sleeping aids to help them sleep soundly at night. However, these aids can be costly and often, only provide a short term solution.
We breathe on average 20,000 to 25,000 times a day. Getting to sleep at night could be as easy as adopting a simple breathing method. Silentnight sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, believes controlling breathing can profoundly affect your energy levels and the way you sleep. In her book ‘Fast Asleep Wide Awake’ she recommends her ‘Three Exhalations’ method to become more aware of your breathing.
1. Wherever you are right now, and without changing your posture, simply pay attention to your breathing and notice three exhalations. Don’t try to change your breathing pattern or do anything fancy to it. Just allow your body to follow its own intelligence and breathe. (Note: This might feel tricy for those of you who practice yoga or Pilates because you might be inclined to judge your breath and then change it, but the aim of this exercise is to stay neutral and just notice your breath.)Dr Nerina Ramlakhan
2. Each time you breathe out, silently and softly say to yourself, ‘OOOOUUUT’ for the whole duration of the out-breath.
3. Notice that each out-breath is different and not necessarily rhythmic or uniform”
She recommends using this technique five times a day for the next 21 days to become fully aware and conscious of the way you breathe.
When we rush around and become stressed during the day we hold our breath and take shallow breaths – this is why many people tend to sigh and yawn when stressed. Shallow breathing can be associated with insufficient melatonin levels, the key hormone to help us sleep. Dr Nerina says daily exercise can help us sleep as respiration increases as we move and become active.
If you think breathing might be the way to help you sleep at night try the ‘4-7-8’ method tonight before bed. Simply:
1. Exhale through your mouth
2. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of 4
3. Hold your breath for 7 counts
4. Exhale for 8 counts
5. Repeat the sequence 3 times