September 19, 2022 — If you’re too stressed out to sleep, taking the time to practice breathing therapy with ancient roots can help you find your way to deep sleep the road of the land.
4-7 According to CNN, the -8 breathing technique was popularized by Andrew Weir, MD, founder of the Andrew Weir Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, but it is based on Pranayama, the yoga practice of breathing regulation.
“A lot of sleep difficulties are about people who have trouble falling asleep because their brains are buzzing,” said Rebecca, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist in the Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Unit Rebecca Robbins of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital told CNN. “But exercises like the 4-7-8 technique give you the opportunity to practice calm. That’s exactly what we need to do before we go to bed.”
Weil’s website offers these instructions: Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper incisors and keep it there throughout the exercise. This will allow you to exhale through the mouth around the tongue and inhale through the nose. Exhale completely with a swish sound, then inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale through your mouth, swish, and count to eight.
Repeat this cycle three more times.
“If you’re having trouble holding your breath, speed up your workout, but keep the three-stage ratio at 4:7:8,” says Weil’s website. “This breathing movement is a natural sedative for the nervous system.”
Raj Dasgupta, associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, told CNN, 4-7 The -8 technique appears to activate a person’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion. The technique reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your fight-or-flight response.
While many swear by the 4-7-8 technique, its effectiveness is not backed by much scientific research.
Sleep Medicine Physician Kelly Waters, MD, Spectrum Health tells Prevention .
“The repetitive nature of the breathing technique is perfect for the final step of settling,” she says. “The first stage of sleep is called the ‘hypnotic’ stage, and these types of breathing techniques allow for a kind of self-hypnosis.”