Breathing can play an integral role in determining how your body and mind feel. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that breathing and how you breathe can have an impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
There are plenty of different ways that breathing can impact your ability to fall and stay asleep. Highlighted below is an overview of why breathing can play a role in your ability to fall asleep quickly and some breathing exercises that you can use to help you fall asleep.
How Breathing Plays a Role in Your Ability to Fall Asleep
Breathing is something that is directly tied to your heart and biomechanics. This is why you generally get shortness of breath or you begin shallow breathing as you get nervous. People that have anxiety attacks typically know the sensation of implementing shallow breathing and how it is connected to your bodily reactions.
This is largely due to the adrenaline running through your veins causing your heart rate to increase rapidly. This causes the body to breath rapidly as a direct stress response. By implementing breathing techniques, you will be able to trick the body into a calmer state.
A majority of the breathing techniques that you want to implement to increase your ability to fall asleep would be calming techniques that use a deep breathing pattern. By breathing in deeply and holding your breath for some time, you will be able to force your body to slow down the rate at which your heart is pumping. Thus, it can force your body into a calmer state, which in turn makes it easier to fall asleep.
Specific Techniques to Implement
4–7–8 Breathing Technique
The 4–7–8 breathing technique is designed to effectively trick both the mind and body to slow down in order to focus on your breathing patterns.
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When you are looking to incorporate this breathing technique into your nightly routine to help you fall asleep, you are going to want to sit upright with your back completely straight. Then, place your tongue thoroughly against your gums on top of your back front teeth. This is where you will keep your tongue throughout the exercise.
You will then exhale completely through your mouth, close your mouth and inhale for a long count of four seconds. Then, you will hold your breath for a complete seven seconds. Once that is complete, you will exhale completely directly through your mouth for a total of eight seconds. You will then repeat this breathing technique over and over four times total.
This breathing exercise is effective because it acts as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.1 As you continue to get better at practicing the technique, you are only going to see enhancements in its effectiveness.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
The alternate nostril breathing exercise can help encourage deep relaxation through the balancing of both hemispheres of the brain. Along with this, it can effectively calm the nervous system, which is typically what inhibits the ability to fall asleep quickly.
When looking to implement this breathing exercise, you will want to sit in a comfortable position. Once seated, take your right hand with your pointer finger and middle finger in a rested position in the middle of your face. The fingers that you want to be using throughout the breathing exercise are the thumb and ring finger.
You will then close your nostril (right) with your thumb (right) and inhale through your opposite nostril slowly and steadily. Then, close the left nostril with your ring finger to the point where both nostrils are closed. Hold your breath for a brief moment and then open your right nostril in order to exhale slowly. Alternate nostrils for up to 10 cycles.
This breathing technique works because it forces your body and brain to retain a certain balance that you might have lost. Because it forces your body and mind to slow down and because you are spending so much of your focus and energy on your breathing, it allows you to bring down your heart rate and gets your mind thinking solely about your breathing.
How Aromatherapy Can Enhance Breathing Sessions
Aromatherapy can be a powerful addition to breathing sessions prior to bedtime. By introducing and adding elements of aromatherapy with effective sleep-inducing essential oils, you should be able to improve the results that you are able to get from the breathing exercises that you incorporate in your nightly routine. There are all kinds of essential oils that have shown to be helpful in inducing both relaxation and drowsiness, including lavender essential oil which has been shown to serve as a mild sedative that is effective for promoting deep sleep.3
Try using this essential oil topically after dilution with a carrier oil or aromatically in a room diffuser or personal diffuser like Sleepy MONQ before you go to bed.
As you can see, breathing can play an integral role in determining your ability to fall asleep. This is largely due to the physiological changes it can bring to calm both your body and mind. When you are stressed out, your heart rate is elevated and you will likely be in a panicked state. By inducing relaxation through deep breathing methods like the practices mentioned above, you should be able to improve your ability to fall asleep dramatically.
By adding essential oils that are effective at inducing relaxation on their own, you should be able to further improve the results of the breathing exercises.
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