Sleep is the new sex. We all want it, we’re not getting enough of it and we don’t know what to do about it.
There are a myriad of products to help you fall asleep these days, from weighted eye masks to pre-bed powder supplements, and even a choice of sleep podcasts to lull you into the land of nod.
But the answer may be a lot simpler than you think.
Yes, it involves counting but it doesn’t have anything to do with sheep.
Fans of the 4-7-8 method claim it works in less than a minute. It’s as easy as settling in for the night and altering the way you breathe.
Inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold that breath for seven seconds and take another eight seconds to slowly exhale from your mouth. Repeat until you enter dreamland.
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According to Dr Andrew Weil, who specialises in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona, this breathing exercise comes from Indian yogis who use it as part of their meditation practice.
“It’s the single best method that I’ve found for dealing with getting back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night,” he said.
This breathing exercise is used to help yogis enter a state of relaxation and in the real world, it can help over-stressed minds to calm down.
By mindfully putting the brakes on your breathing, you force your heartbeat to slow, which in turn has an effect on the rest of your body.
“The theory is that by imposing certain rhythms on the breath with your voluntary system, gradually these are induced into the involuntary nervous system,” Dr Weil said.
“And that comes with time. So it’s the regularity of doing this over a period of weeks, months, years that produces the changes that you want.”
So the next time you’re up tossing and turning, try to slow down your breath to calm your mind.