If you ever have trouble getting to sleep, you’ve probably tried any number of things- hot milk, ASMR videos, even possibly a warm bath.
But which relaxation techniques for sleep really work? Well, the power is in you. In fact, it’s in your lungs. Learning to breathe properly could be the key to a good night’s sleep by mastering breathing techniques that move your body into a fully relaxed state.
How to Breathe Better at Night
Using a range of breathing and sleeping techniques, you may be able to lull your body to sleep using only the power of your mind- and, of course, your lungs. Techniques such as meditative breathing or deep breathing can reduce stress and get the mind ready to sleep, but why do we struggle to fall asleep in the first place?
- Stress throughout the day
- Ongoing worries either about your own life or the state of the world
- Feeling helpless or alone
- Working late
- Exercising late (which may be your only option depending on your schedule)
- Other factors, such as looking after small children or caring for another adult
Most of these factors are unavoidable, so it’s about how you train yourself to fall asleep despite these issues. Learning specific breathing techniques and using them correctly can bypass your body’s stress responses and help improve your sleep quality.
Deep Breathing for Sleep: Does It Work?
This breathing technique for sleep involves breathing out completely, then breathing in deeply, holding the breath, then breathing out again for a specific amount of time. The technique is called the relaxing breath, or the 4-7-8 breathing technique, and was championed by Dr. Andrew Weil as a natural tranquilizer to help the body fall asleep naturally.
How to do the 4-7-8 technique:
- “Whoosh” all the air out through your mouth.
- Inhale deeply but quietly via your nose while counting to four.
- Hold your breath while you count to seven.
- “Whoosh” your breath out of your mouth for a count of eight.
Do this whole cycle four times, making sure your nasal inhales are quiet and your mouth exhales are noisy. According to Dr. Weil, this technique works directly on the nervous system to provide natural relaxation.
Using a breathing exercise to fall asleep is great because you don’t need to worry about the side effects of taking drugs. Also, you don’t need to rely on apps on devices- which can actually disrupt your sleeping schedule by introducing too much blue light into your sleeping area.
More Breathing Techniques
Another popular breathing exercise for sleep is breath counting, where you breathe as you normally would, but count every exhale, up to a count of five. When you reach five exhales, start from one again. Focusing on the breath this way tricks the mind into forgetting about stresses and anxieties.
Practice your breathing exercises during the day when you have a few spare minutes. Like any exercise, the more frequently you do them, the easier they become. Plus, they can provide a few minutes of much-needed relaxation on a busy day.
What About Breathing While You Sleep?
Of course, once you get to sleep, breathing is still very important. Anyone who has ever shared a bed with a snorer knows that not everyone enjoys easy breathing at nighttime. Snoring can be caused by the tongue partially obstructing the airway or by congestion. However, snoring isn’t the only breathing problem people experience at night.
Sleep apnea is a more serious form of the same problem, where something is partially obstructing the airways. This can lead to:
- Stopping of breath for short times
- Choking sounds
- Loud snorting
- Very loud snoring
- Poor quality sleep due to frequent waking
- Fatigue during the day
- The low mood during the day
If you or a partner have observed any of these symptoms, speak to a doctor. They might recommend monitoring you while you sleep to find out how serious the problem is. Treatments include a machine that includes oxygen and a mask, a special device that looks like a gum shield, which helps keep the airways open, and in certain cases, surgery can be performed to increase the size of the airways.
Natural Ways to Improve Breathing at Night Include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Sleeping on your side rather than on your back
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol, particularly shortly before bed
Also, you should never take sleeping pills unless prescribed by your doctor, as they can make sleep apnea worse.
Are There Products Which can Help?
The most popular sleeping products are those that can help with snoring. Snoring, of course, doesn’t just cause problems for the sleeper, but also for anyone sharing a bed with them, too. Reducing the frequency and volume of snoring can improve the quality of life for the whole family.
These simple, drug-free strips help open up the nasal passages for better airflow. They come in a range of sizes and scents, so they’re suitable for just about anyone.
There are lots of different brands selling these devices. They’re designed to be inserted into the nostrils to help keep the nasal passages open. When you can breathe clearly through your nose, you’re less likely to rely on mouth-breathing, which may reduce or even prevent snoring.
As mentioned earlier, the tongue itself can impede into the airway, causing obstruction and increasing snoring. A tongue device is designed to gently grip the tongue and keep it in place. These devices are also sometimes used to prevent teeth grinding.
Your breath is one of the most important factors in a good night’s sleep. Using the above breathing techniques can ensure you drift off gently. Keeping your airways clear at night can make sure you get the best night’s sleep, which means a great morning the day after.
There are so many breathing techniques for sleep to help prevent snoring or to help you fall asleep naturally. Look at which breathing exercises for sleep really work, and what you can do to help your breathing while you’re asleep.