Can't sleep? Well, you're in good company. TIME reported back in 2015 that 60 million Americans battle insomnia according to NPR. And the American Psychological Association found in a study called Stressed in America that over half of all millennials have had at least one sleepless night a month. If you have tried all of the usual remedies like warm milk, chamomile tea, a warm bath, dropping the room temperature, or even a sleep aid and you still can't drift off, here is a practice that is worth a shot: breathing.
Well, we breathe all of the time. How can breathing be better than counting sheep? According to Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., "Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders."
If you follow Dr. Weil's 4-7-8 breathing technique, he says that you can follow asleep within 60 seconds:
1. Before you begin, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your upper teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise.
2. Exhale completely through your mouth quite forcefully so you make a "whoosh" sound.
3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly and softly through your nose for a mental count of four.
4. Hold your breath and count to seven.
5. Next, exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight seconds in one large breath.
6. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.
In other words, inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, exhale for eight seconds, and then repeat the cycle three more times. By using the 4-7-8 method, you are taking in more oxygen and calming your body, helping you balance out your nervous system, and taking your mind off the daily happenings that keep you up at night.
Give it a whirl and then let us know if this method does the trick. Sweet dreams!