4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

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Falling asleep is preceded by changes in your autonomic nervous system, notably increased para-sympathetic (vagal) activity and reduction of sympathetic drive with a concomitant reduction in heart rate (HR) and increase in heart rate variability (HRV). We can use the breath to activate this response very quickly and efficiently. Vegal activity occurs when we have a longer exhale than inhale. Slow breathing also decreases the HR and increases the HRV. Here's how to do a simple breathing exercise in bed to help you get better quality sleep long-term, called the 4-7-8 Breath. here's how to do it:

What You'll Need

  • A calm room with no distractions.

What You'll Do

  • Once you're ready for bed, lay down, turn off the lights and any electronic devices near you.
  • Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  • Inhale through the nose for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale through pursed lips for a count of 8.
  • Repeat 3 to 4 times.
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