People Swear By the '4-7-8' Breathing Technique To Fall Asleep Faster

The goal of this pre-bedtime routine is to help you become calm and relaxed. Dorsey Standish, MS, a mechanical engineer, neuroscientist, wellness expert, and CEO of Mastermind Meditate

explains, "The 4-7-8 breathing technique, often called'relaxing breath,' is a controlled breathing practice where you breathe in for four counts, hold the breath for seven counts

and exhale through pursed lips making an audible 'whoosh' sound for eight counts." "Note: The exact counts of each part of the breath are not as important as the emphasis on elongating the exhale to be about twice as long as the inhale."

Standish analogizes the nervous system to an automobile. Inhaling would be like pressing the gas pedal, "associated with the sympathetic nervous system,"  

while exhaling would be like applying the brakes, "associated with the parasympathetic nervous system." Elongating your exhale calms your nervous system and helps you relax.

Standish suggests adding 4-7-8 breathing to your nighttime routine since the long exhale soothes your nervous system and prepares it for sleep. Also, counting your breath reduces mental chatter.

To experience these benefits and encourage a restful night's sleep, practice four rounds of 4-7-8 breathing before bed. She suggests using this method if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall asleep.

"Bonus benefit: The 4-7-8 technique also supports a healthy respiratory system by encouraging the complete release of all air from the lungs."