5 Breathing Techniques for Quick Relaxation and Better Sleep

Updated on September 25th, 2020
breathing exercises for better sleep

Breathing exercises can be helpful to reduce anxiety and stress and help you to relax at bedtime. The following breathing techniques can all be done quickly on your own to help encourage your mind and body to relax and make sleep more comfortable.

Breathing Exercises for Better Sleep

1. Abdominal Breathing

Abdominal breathing is a kind of deep breathing into the abdomen rather than shallow breathing in the chest. The following steps will ensure that you are breathing from your diaphragm.

  1. Lie down with your legs slightly apart and straight. Point your toes outward, place your arms at your side gently, make sure your palms are facing upwards, and close your eyes.
  2. Put a hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  3. Observe which hand rises the most as you inhale.
  4. If a hand on your chest rises the most as you inhale, concentrate on filling your stomach (bottom of your lungs) completely of air before you reach the top. A comfortable way to do this is to try and force your abdomen to rise as you breathe. Over time, this gets simpler.

As you breathe, make sure to inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth. Keep your face comfortable as you do this. Breathe in and out while counting to ensure that you are breathing gradually. Relax and concentrate on the sound of your breath [1].

Continue breathing like this for some time, such as 10 or 15 minutes. Practice this breathing regularly, such as daily once.

Once you’ve become comfortable engaging in deep abdominal breathing, practice it when you find yourself becoming tense or anxious.

This breathing type is useful because it helps slow down the multiple functions in your body that can keep you anxious and tense. Allowing yourself to breathe deep will slow down your heart rate and make it simpler to fall asleep.

[Also Read: Breathing Exercises for Asthma]

2. Repeating a Mantra

Once you have gained mastery of the art of abdominal breathing, you can add in a mantra that helps you focus on your breath’s relaxation aspect. Do as below to add in a mantra while you breathe.

  1. Get relaxed and lie down or sit in a comfortable position.
  2. While you breathe deeply through to your abdomen, say a motto to yourself in your head, such as “Inhale tranquility.”
  3. Then, while you breathe out and release the air from your abdomen, say, “Exhale stress.”

Make sure to pause before you breathe out and before you breathe in. As you breathe out, become aware of any stress in your body and let it go.

You can even use your visualization to imagine your body, accepting relaxation, and letting go of stress. Imagine these experiences as visual events such as air entering in and out of your body [2].

Do this for 10 to 15 minutes until you start to feel sleepy.

[Also Read: Breathing Exercises for Stress]

3. 4-7-8 Breathing Routine

4-7-8 breathing exercise is another method to relax so that you can fall asleep. Follow the steps below to perfect this kind of breathing.

  1. Sit with your back erect
  2. Position the edge of the tongue behind your upper front teeth and keep it there.
  3. Breathe out through your mouth and make a “whispering” sound.
  4. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose to a count of 
  5. Hold this breath and count to 7.
  6. Then, breathe out using your mouth while making the same “whooshing” sound and count to 8.
  7. If you are done this cycle, you’ll complete one breath. Now go back and do this again 3 more times so that you have completed the cycle for 4 breaths in total.

It’s essential to note that you should breathe in quietly but breathe out while making a nose when you breathe like this. Place your tongue in the same place throughout the whole exercise. Ensure that you maintain the ratio of time for inhale/holding/exhale, which is most critical.

If you want to do everything quicker the initial few times, you do this (if you feel holding your breath for this long is challenging), feel free to modify the time and work your way up as you get habituated to the technique.

Practice breathing like this two times a day (again, only do 4 breaths at a time). Do this consistently for 30 days. As you master it, you can extend to 8 breaths.

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Now, when you find it challenging to sleep, practice your 4-7-8 breaths.

[Also Read: Breathing Exercises for Boosting Immunity]

4. Body Scan

Have you heard of the body scan method to help you relax and fall asleep? This method involves scanning your body for signs of tension so that you can overcome these and fall asleep. Follow the steps below to practice this method.

  1. Lie down in bed and concentrate on relaxing as you breathe out.
  2. Experience the bed underneath you and how it is supporting you as you continue to breathe out and relax.
  3. Picture every part of your body, starting from your head and moving through your complete body to look for stressed spots. As you move through your body, breathe out, and focus on relaxing strained muscles.
  4. After you’ve completed looking for stress throughout your body, focus on your breathe outs. As you breathe out, repeat a mantra to yourself that helps promote sleep, such as merely the word “relax” or another word that enables you to fall asleep.

Follow this method, and you should find both your body and mind begin to relax. Before you are aware of it, you will be drifting off to slumber!

[Also Read: How to Fall Asleep Fast]

5. Counting While Breathing

Did you know that counting can aid you to drift off? Follow the advice mentioned here to help you count your way to an excellent night’s sleep.

  1. Lie down in bed, focus on breathing out your breath, and try your best to destress.
  2. Experience the bed supporting you underneath as you breathe out and relax.
  3. Count from 1 to 15 and then backward from 15 to 1, but pair the counts with your breath outs.
  4. Keep repeating this pattern until you drift off.

There are multiple variants on this counting breath sequence. For instance, you could count backward from 99 to help you drift off. See suits you best and practice it until you feel drowsy.

Bottom Line 

The next time you find it tough to drift off, try practicing one of the above 7 breathing exercises for better slumber. If you still struggle, considering visiting your physician to see if there is an underlying cause of your poor sleep or insomnia.

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