Can 4-7-8 Meditation Help Your Sleep?
4. 7. 8.
4. 7. 8.
“The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise,” as the technique is known, is promoted by Dr. Andrew Weil as a stress reliever and has been widely shown to help people fall asleep. So, I tried it and it really worked for me!
Dr. Weil recommends three different types of breathing exercises to reduce stress, but the 4-7-8 method has gone viral among those who want to improve their sleep. He calls it a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” But unlike drugs, which can have side effects or lose their potency over time, this drug-free fix gets stronger as you practice. Try it at least twice a day, although the best time, of course, is when you want to sleep.
Some 60 million Americans have sleep troubles, with 30 to 35 percent having brief symptoms of insomnia and 15 to 20 percent suffering short-term sleeping problems. For 10 percent, it’s a chronic disorder.
Insomnia can negatively affect performance at school or work. Chronic insomnia can impact one’s health, increase the risk of high blood pressure and depression, and lower one’s quality of life. According to research out of Harvard, employees lose 11.3 days of work performance each year due to insomnia. Wow!
After ruling out other conditions that cause insomnia and poor sleep, health and medical practitioners often advise patients to find non-medical solutions to the problem, such as yoga, a new mattress that adjusts to you like a Sleep Number bed, and meditation.
“Yoga breathing (pranayama) can rapidly bring the mind to the present moment and reduce stress,” reports the study Yoga Breathing, Meditation, and Longevity, which provides clinical evidence for the use of yoga breathing in the treatment of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and for victims of mass disasters. “By inducing stress resilience, breath work enables us to rapidly and compassionately relieve many forms of suffering.”
According to a more recent study in the International Journal of Yoga, yogic breathing (defined as the manipulation of breath movement) can improve relaxation, stress management and improve organ function.
“Practicing regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders,” Dr. Weil says.
How do you do it?
Dr. Weil says you can do it anywhere in any position, but it’s best to sit up with your back straight while doing the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against your upper front teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward, he writes.
- With your mouth closed, inhale for the count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale forcefully through your mouth (tongue against teeth) for a count of eight.
Repeat the cycle three more times, if you can. You might fall asleep in the middle. You can make each step last longer, as long as you keep the ratio of 4:7:8.
Try this for a week or a month and see if it helps you.
If you liked this article, check out this other post to see if sleep can help you understand your spouse.
Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and professional performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® beds adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support. Find your Sleep Number® setting for the best possible night’s sleep.