If you struggle with your pillow every night trying to fall asleep, there is a solution that could help you. It’s the 4-7-8 techniquethat is a relaxation exercise that consists of breathing in to a count of four, holding your breath to a count of seven, and breathing out to a count of eightsaid Dr. Raj Dasguptaclinical associate professor of medicine at the Keck University of Medicine of Southern California on CNN.
Also know as “relaxing breathing”4-7-8 has ancient roots in pranayama, which is the yogic practice of regulating the breath, but was popularized by integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil in 2015.
“Many people have trouble sleeping because their minds are buzzing.said Rebecca Robbins, a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Associate Scientist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “But exercises like the 4-7-8 technique give you a chance to practice stillness. And that’s exactly what we should do before we go to sleep.”
This technique can reduce stress to increase the likelihood of falling asleep.
How the 4-7-8 method works
The 4-7-8 method requires no equipment or specific setup, but when you first learn the exercise, you should sit up straight. Practicing in a calm and quiet place may help. Once you have more practice, you can use the technique while lying in bed.
Throughout the exercise, place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth as you exhale through your mouth. Then follow these steps:
- Exhale fully through your mouth, making a puffing sound.
- Close your mouth and breathe calmly through your nose, mentally counting to four.
- Hold your breath while you count to seven.
- Exhale through your mouth, counting to eight.
- Repeat the process three more times for a total of four breath cycles.
- Sticking to the ratio of four, then seven, then eight counts is more important than the time you spend in each phase.
If you have trouble holding your breath, speed up the exercise, but keep the ratio (steady) throughout all three phases. With practice, you can slow down and get used to breathing in and out more and more deeply.