Take One

Half Mag / Half Zine

Many of us know how frustrating it is to spend the night tossing and turning, unable to drift off.

And sometimes not even counting sheep, listening to the sound of rain or dousing our pillow in lavender spray helps.

Thankfully, Dr Andrew Weil, a specialist in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona, is here to explain a breathing technique which is, what he calls, “the single best method” for drifting off to sleep.

The 4-7-8 method, also known as “relaxing breath”, can help people get to sleep in just one minute.

Rhythmic breathing is a core practice derived from Indian yogis who use it during meditation – and there’s a number of benefits.

Although the method is best known to help insomniacs, it can also help to calm over-stressed minds, manage anxiety as well as cravings and control anger responses by forcing your heartbeat to slow down.

Speaking on MedicalNewsToday, Dr Weil said: “It’s the single best method that I’ve found for dealing with getting back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.”

The technique involves inhaling through your nose for four seconds, holding that breath for seven seconds and exhaling slowly for another eight seconds.

Then repeat until you drift off.

Dr Weil continues: “The theory is that by imposing certain rhythms on the breath with your voluntary system, gradually these are induced into the involuntary nervous system.

“And that comes with time. So it’s the regularity of doing this over a period of weeks, months, years that produces the changes that you want.”

Dr Weil suggests using the technique twice a day to start seeing the benefits, and only completing the cycle four times when starting out.

He says that you may start to feel lightheaded after doing this the first few times – but that’s completely normal.

To prevent this, try completing it laying or sitting down.

According to some advocates of 4-7-8 breathing, the more often people use the technique, the more effective it becomes.