For a long time, I had a hard time sleeping. We can chock it up to bad food late at night, too many screens before bed, and stress. I found it incredibly difficult to shut my brain down and give it a break at night. After weeks of not being able to sleep a full night, a friend of mine told me about the “4-7-8” breathing trick.
But what is that?
This method was developed by a wellness practitioner, Harvard-educated Dr. Andrew Weil, who studies meditation, breathing, and how it can be used to counteract stress. It’s easy to do. You breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. She explained to me that it slows down your heart rate and it also releases chemicals in our brains that soothe you.
Pretty neat, huh? I was skeptical, but I tried it. It ended up working like a total charm. I was out before I reached my fourth repetition and it tends to knock me out easily in less than a minute.
This is good for more than just falling asleep though. When we’re stressed, our endocrine system releases adrenaline through our adrenal glands. This elevates your heart rate and can make you feel jittery and unwell. Often times, your breathing also becomes rapid and shallow.
By using this breathing method, you counteract the natural effects of adrenaline and your body is forced to slow down your heart rate. It simply doesn’t have a choice! When you begin, you may feel a tad uncomfortable.
But as you continue with it, you really do feel your heart rate slow and your mind clear. It’s almost like you’re spending a leisurely afternoon at a beach. So relaxing. Give it a try tonight and tell us what you think! You can also heck out Dr. Andrew Weil, if you are interested in further reading.