Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health, and it can be difficult to achieve a restful night’s sleep without the right tools. Deep breathing also helps to regulate our heart rate and blood pressure, promoting a sense of calmness and reducing feelings of tension. By focusing on our breath, we shift our attention away from racing thoughts and worries, allowing us to enter a state of deep relaxation.
By taking just a few minutes to focus on our breath before bed, we can create a peaceful and calm state of mind that promotes restful sleep and enhances our overall well-being. So why not give it a try and see the difference deep breathing can make in your sleep and mental health?
The Physiological Sigh: Two inhales, followed by an extended exhale
One of the most fascinating breathing techniques for improving sleep and mental health is the physiological sigh. Recently made popular by Neurobiologist Andrew Huberman, this technique involves taking two deep inhales, followed by an extended exhale. It was discovered in the 1930s when people naturally started breathing in this pattern during deep sleep, due to a build-up of carbon dioxide.
Researchers, Andrew Huberman and Melis Yilmaz Balban, have found that intentionally practicing this style of controlled breathing can have significant benefits. When performed for just five minutes, the physiological sigh can lower anxiety levels, improve mood, and even decrease resting breathing rates, indicating a sense of overall body calmness.
To practice the physiological sigh, find a comfortable position and begin by taking a deep inhale through your nose. Then, immediately take another sharp inhale. Finally, exhale slowly and audibly with a long, sighing breath through your mouth. Repeat this sequence for five minutes or until you feel a sense of relaxation and calmness. By intentionally focusing on your breath and practicing this technique, you can tap into its powerful calming effects and experience improved sleep quality and emotional well-being.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is known to activate the body’s relaxation response and calm the nervous system. It is a simple yet powerful technique that can be done anywhere, including in bed before sleep.
To begin, find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose, counting to four. Feel your belly rise as you fill your lungs with air. Then, hold your breath for a count of seven. This allows the oxygen to circulate in your body and oxygenate your cells. Finally, exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of eight, making a soft whooshing sound.
Repeat this cycle of inhaling, holding, and exhaling for a few minutes, focusing on the rhythm and depth of your breath. Feel the tension in your body melt away with each breath. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a simple yet effective way to calm the mind, relax the body, and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. It can also be used throughout the day to manage stress and improve overall mental health.
The Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
One effective nighttime breathing technique to improve sleep and mental health is the Alternate Nostril Breathing technique. This technique, helps to balance and harmonize the body’s energy, calming the mind and preparing it for restful sleep.
To practice this technique, sit in a comfortable position and relax your body. Place your left hand on your left knee, with the palm facing up. Use your right hand to close your right nostril with your thumb. Take a deep inhale through your left nostril, then use your ring finger to close your left nostril, exhaling slowly through your right nostril. Next, inhale through your right nostril, close it with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril. This completes one round.
Continue alternating between nostrils, taking two inhales followed by an extended exhale through the opposite nostril. Focus on the sensation of the breath moving in and out, and allow any tension or stress to melt away. Through regulating the breath and balancing the energy in the body, it can bring about a state of deep relaxation, preparing the mind and body for a restorative night’s sleep.
Additional Tips for Better Sleep and Mental Health
In addition to incorporating nighttime breathing techniques into your routine, there are a few other tips that can greatly improve your sleep and overall mental health.
1. Create a bedtime routine 2. Limit exposure to electronic devices 3. Create a sleep-friendly environment 4. Manage stress 5. Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Remember, while these tips help some to improve sleep and mental health, they may not work for everyone. If you continue to struggle with sleep or mental health issues, it’s important to reach out to a healthcare professional for further guidance and support.
At Recovery Ways we have over a decade of experience helping those who are seeking to improve their mental health including specializing in supporting healing with PTSD, anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, and more. We have a thriving alumni program with many who support each other in their new found freedoms of a life of sobriety. We offer a wide range of services including Detox, Residential Treatment, PHP, and IOP therapy to help those in need. Please contact us today if we can be of assistance in getting your life unstuck and back to finding more purpose and joy. We accept most major insurances.