Sleep has been put on the back burner for many people in recent years. If you've ever worked just a few hours more or binged watch just one or two more episodes of your favorite show at night, you know how easy it is to sleep an hour or two or even three less per night. And for many people, they simply toss and turn for an hour before bed. Approximately 30% of people have some problems falling asleep at night. Using the best breathing techniques for sleep can help you finally relax your mind and body to get to sleep faster at night. Plus, your sleep quality will improve, allowing you to feel more awake when you wake up.
If you don't know any breathing techniques to use – you're not alone.
We're going to cover a few of our favorite techniques that we're sure will help improve your sleep.
6 Best Breathing Techniques for Sleep
1. Bhramari Pranayama
Bhramari Pranayama is one of the breathing techniques that has been studied (you can see a study here) and is shown to prep your body for sleep.
It works to calm your mind, slow your breathing, and slow the heart. Thankfully, it's also an easy technique that anyone can do:
- Lay down in bed and close your eyes
- Breathe in and out deeply
- Cover your eyes (using your hands)
- Put your index finger above the eyebrow
- Place the remaining fingers over each respective eye
- Apply gentle pressure to the side of the nose
- Breathe through the nose, keep the mouth closed and make a low, "Om" hum
You'll want to repeat this about five times or until you fall asleep.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Do you breathe through your diaphragm? If you don't, this breathing exercise will help you begin. Additionally, people that practice this form of breathing state that it helps them relax and sleep better at night.
You'll need to perform a little setup here but start by laying on your back and putting a pillow under your knees.
Now, you'll follow these simple steps:
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest
- Breathe slowly through your nose
- Keep your hands in place as your stomach rises with your breath
- Begin slowly breathing through pursed lips
You'll want to focus on your chest and try to breathe in and out without moving your chest. While this technique takes quite some time to master, it will lead to lower overall oxygen needs and teach you how to slow your breathing.
3. 4-7-8 Technique
One of the most popular breathing techniques is called the 4-7-8. Traditionally, you'll begin this breathing exercise sitting up with your back straight. You'll want to place your tongue behind the upper teeth and keep it there the entire time.
Finally, you can begin with the following steps:
- Breathe out through the mouth
- Close your mouth
- Breathe using your nose and count to four
- Hold the breath for a count of seven
- Breathe out for eight seconds
You'll want to repeat these steps multiple times. The key most important thing is that you maintain the ratios outlined above during the entire exercise.
4. Buteyko Breathing
Buteyko breathing is a good option for anyone struggling with falling asleep, but it's a little different than the techniques we've outlined previously. Instead, this technique will help stop you from hyperventilating when you sleep.
Also, Buteyko breathing works for resetting your breathing rhythm so that you can fall asleep easier.
How do you do Buteyko breathing?
- Sit up in your bed
- Keep your mouth gently closed
- Breathe through your nose for 30 seconds
- Focus on breathing through your nose
- Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch your nose
- Keep your mouth closed
- When you feel the need to breathe, take a deep breath in and out through your nose
You'll want to focus on your breathing during this technique and truly learn how you breathe. Over time, you'll find that this exercise is a great way to restore your breathing patterns, especially if you're in a panic.
The best breathing techniques for sleep will certainly improve your sleep, but don't forget to make sleep a priority. Ideally, you should sleep at least 7 hours per night. In fact, the CDC has guidelines (broken down into age groups) that recommend the ideal number of hours to sleep for you.
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