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4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 Breathing

What Is the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?

Dr Andrew Weil devised the 4-7-8 breathing technique as a breathing pattern. It’s based on pranayama, an ancient yogic method that helps people acquire control over their breathing.

It’s likely that if this technique is used on a regular basis, it will assist some people to fall asleep faster.

What exactly is the 4-7-8 breathing technique?

Breathing techniques are intended to induce deep relaxation in the body. Your body can refill its oxygen supply by following specific patterns that involve holding the breath for a period of time. Techniques like 4-7-8 can help your organs and tissues get more oxygen from the lungs outward.

Relaxation techniques also aid in restoring body equilibrium and regulating the fight-or-flight reaction that occurs when we are stressed. This is especially beneficial if you’re having trouble sleeping because of anxiety or concerns about what happened today — or what might happen tomorrow. We can’t get enough sleep because of our racing thoughts and worries.

When you lie down at night, the 4-7-8 approach compels your mind and body to focus on breathing regulation rather than repeating your problems. Proponents claim it helps calm frazzled nerves and calm a pounding heart. It’s even been called a “natural tranquillizer for the nervous system” by Dr Weil.

The overall principle of 4-7-8 breathing is comparable to methods such as:

  • Breathing in and out of one nostril at a time while keeping the other closed is known as alternate nostril breathing.
  • While guiding your attention to the present moment, mindfulness meditation facilitates focused breathing.
  • Your mind is drawn to the path and pattern of your natural breathing when you visualise it.
  • As you breathe, guided imagery enables you to focus on a good memory or tale that will distract you from your troubles.

4-7-8 breathing can help people overcome distractions and slip into a peaceful state if they are suffering from mild sleep difficulties, anxiety, or tension.

Proponents of 4-7-8 breathing claim that it gets more powerful over time and with regular practice. It is stated that the effects are subtle at first. The first time you try it, you could feel a little dizzy. Some people may benefit more by practising 4-7-8 breathing at least twice per day than those who just do it once.

How to do the 4-7-8

Find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down to practise 4-7-8 breathing. Make sure you have decent posture, especially when you first start out. It’s advisable to lie down if you’re utilising the approach to fall asleep.

Rest the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your top front teeth, to prepare for the practice. Throughout the practice, you must keep your tongue in place. Exhaling without moving your mouth takes a lot of practice. When some people purse their lips, exhaling during 4-7-8 breathing is simpler.

All of the actions below should be completed in one breath cycle:

  1. Allow your lips to part first. Exhale thoroughly via your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
  2. Then, close your lips, inhaling through your nose as you count to four in your head.
  3. Then hold your breath for seven seconds.
  4. Make another eight-second whooshing exhalation from your mouth.

You start afresh breath cycle when you inhale again. For four complete breaths, repeat the above sequence.

The most important component of this exercise is holding your breath for seven seconds. When you’re initially starting out, it’s also recommended that you only practise 4-7-8 breathing for four breaths. You can gradually increase the number of full breaths to eight.

This breathing method should not be used until you are prepared to completely relax. It doesn’t have to be used for falling asleep, but it can still put the practitioner in a deep state of relaxation. Check to see whether you don’t need to be fully aware right after practising your breathing cycles.

Other methods for assisting sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping due to anxiety or stress, 4-7-8 breathing may be able to help you get the rest you need. If the approach isn’t effective enough on its own, it might be supplemented with other interventions such as:

  • A mask for sleeping
  • A white noise generator
  • Earplugs
  • Soothing music
  • Diffusing lavender essential oils
  • Lowering caffeine consumption
  • Yoga before bed

If 4-7-8 breathing doesn’t work for you, another technique like mindfulness meditation or guided visualisation might.

In some circumstances, sleeplessness is severe enough to warrant medical attention. Other factors that may contribute to insufficient sleep include:

  • Menopause causes hormonal changes
  • Medications
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Depression and other mental illnesses
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Pregnancy
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Autoimmune conditions

Contact your doctor if you have regular, persistent, or debilitating sleeplessness. They can recommend you to a sleep specialist who will do a sleep study to determine the source of your insomnia. They can then work with you to locate the best treatment option.