Can’t sleep? A simple ‘4-7-8’ deep breathing method can induce sleep in 60 seconds, says a US health expert. The mindful bedtime trick involves making a loud ‘whoosh’ noise then holding your breath in stages. It might sound crazy, but trust me on this one.
Pioneered by American sleep expert Dr Andrew Weil, the technique is designed to calm the mind and relax the muscles. If you’re one of the 30% of Brits who suffers from poor sleep, anything is worth a try. Not sleeping well doesn’t just make you tired and unable to concentrate – it puts you at risk of more serious health issues including obesity, heart disease and diabetes and it even reduces your life expectancy. That puts a little bit of ‘whooshing’ into a whole new light!
Dr Weil says a simple alteration to normal breathing is the answer. “This comes from yoga, and in yoga breathing, you have to keep the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth. Breathe in through your nose quietly and blow air out forcefully through your mouth making a whoosh sound. It takes about 30 seconds so there is no excuse for not doing it.
“It produces a very pleasant altered state of consciousness. It becomes a wonderful way to help you fall asleep. About four to six weeks you will see changes in your body.”
The trick is to hold the breath for four seconds, breathing out then holding for seven seconds. After that exhale for a count of eight. Repeat between 2-4 times.
The technique works by filling the lungs with air, allowing more oxygen into the body, which in turn promotes a state of calm. Dr Weil advises doing the breathing twice a day religiously, and it can also be used to improve digestion and stop the ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the body, reducing stress.
How to perform the 4-7-8 mindful bedtime trick:
- Exhale through your mouth making a ‘whoosh’ sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of four.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a ‘whoosh’ sound to the count of eight.
- Inhale again and repeat the cycle 2-4 times.
Even if you decide this stress-relieving trick isn’t for you, it is worth exploring other ways to empty the stress bucket. Stress plays such a huge part in how we feel about ourselves, and that in turn has a knock-on effect on how motivated we are to eat well and take proper care of both our physical and mental health.
It might seem like a luxury to practise mindfulness or indulge in any kind of self-care but you know what they say when you’re on a plane: you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask before you can save anyone else.
The same is true for healthy eating. In my clinic, people often come to me feeling unmotivated and exhausted by life, but it’s my job to help you feel inspired to make positive changes for yourself. And once you feel motivated again, it will help to inspire the whole family and others around you.
If you know you need a diet and lifestyles upgrade but are not sure exactly what that would look like for you, get in touch and together we can explore how my lifestyle diet could work in your (real) life. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Looking forward to talking to you and helping you take the first step towards a new you.