A simple breath exercise to relax
your mind and help you fall asleep
by Alice Louey
This is a helpful breath exercise that I learnt a few years ago that relaxes your mind, and helps you fall asleep quickly. The use of slow deep breaths eases your body into a relaxed state. Breathe slowly and deeply into the belly; your belly should rise gently with each in-breath, and lower gently with each out-breath. The important numbers to remember for this breath exercise are 4 – 7 – 8.
Are you ready to begin?
Find a comfortable position to begin; I recommend lying on your back with a pillow under your knees and hands gently resting on your belly. Otherwise sitting comfortably with your hands on your belly will also work.
4 – breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of 4; you can feel your belly gently rise as you breathe in deeper
7 – hold your breath for a count of 7
8 – breathe out slowly through your mouth for a count of 8; you can feel your belly gently lower as you release your breath
Inhale- 2-3-4, Hold-2-3-4-5-6-7, Exhale- 2-3-4-5-6-7-8
Repeat this breath exercise at least 5 times, and feel free to continue as long as you like.
During each cycle of this breath sequence you will notice that your breath naturally becomes slower and deeper.
Some people do find it difficult to either hold their breath for 7 counts, or to exhale for 8 counts; so it’s completely fine to gradually build up to these numbers. Try starting with 4-4-5 (inhale -2-3-4, hold-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4-5), then when that is manageable try 4-5-6; and when you have the hang of that sequence, try 4-6-7.
Or if you find that holding your breath is hard, just focus on making your out-breath longer then your in-breath; breathe in for 4 counts, breathe out for 5 counts focusing on slow deep breaths into your belly.
Gradually you will be able to include a pause between your in-breath and your out-breath.
For other tips about having a regular routine amount of sleep, please refer to a previous article on Sleep Hygiene.