Falling asleep can be difficult when the brain is busy overthinking. Ancient breathing techniques can help relax mind and body, easing the body into a deep sleep.

“What a lot of sleep difficulties are all about is people who struggle to fall asleep because their mind is buzzing,” said Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist in the division of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told CNN News.

“But exercises like the 4-7-8 technique give you the opportunity to practice being at peace. And that’s exactly what we need to do before we go to bed.”

What is the 4-7-8 breathing technique?

The breathwork style that can calm a racing mind was coined by integrative medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil in 2015, but it is an ancient practice with roots in yoga.

The technique itself is simple. According to Cleveland Clinic, this is how it works:

  1. Inhale through your nose for four counts.
  2. Hold your breath for seven counts.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for eight counts.

A Healthline report warns that at first, those using the technique may feel lightheaded, but practicing it often can yield results.

What are the benefits of the 4-7-8 breathing technique?

Not only can the 4-7-8 technique calm down a distracted mind, but it can also reduce stress and anxiety as well as train the body to respond better to stress.

“Yoga breathing techniques calm the body down and bring it into a more relaxed state,” Dr. Melissa Young, an integrative medicine specialist, told Cleveland Health. “This kind of breathing can help us focus our mind and our body away from worries and repetitive thoughts.”

She said that it may take the nervous system time to respond, according that “the more we do it, the more we allow our bodies to go into that parasympathetic mode.”

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