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The 4-7-8 method that could help you sleep!

13.02.2023 06:06 AM
The 4-7-8 method that could help you sleep!
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The 4-7-8 method that could help you sleep!

Falling asleep once we are feeling anxious might never be as easy as 1-2-3, that’s why some experts start believing in a new strategy to doing the trick with a different set of numbers named: – 4-7-8.

What is the 4-7-8 technique?

Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine assumed that The 4-7-8 technique is a relaxation exercise that involves breathing in for four counts, holding that breath for seven counts and exhaling for eight counts.

Also known as the “relaxing breath,” 4-7-8 is the yogic practice of breath regulation, since once we struggle to fall asleep we need to practice being at peace before going to bed.

 “It does not ‘put you to sleep,’ but rather it may reduce anxiety to increase likelihood of falling asleep,” said Joshua Tal, a New York state-based clinical psychologist.


How 4-7-8 works?

The 4-7-8 method doesn’t require any equipment or specific setting, but when you’re initially learning the exercise, you should sit with your back straight, according to Weil. Practicing in a calm, quiet place could help, said Robbins. Once you get the hang of it, you can use the technique while lying in bed.

 According to Weil, during the entire practice, you should place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth, as you’ll be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue.

All what you have to do is to follow the below steps:

·         Completely exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

·         Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose to a mental count of four.

·         Hold your breath for a count of seven.

·         Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of eight.

·         Repeat the process three more times for a total of four breath cycles.

·         Keeping to the ratio of four, then seven and then eight counts is more important than the time you spend on each phase.

 Once we have trouble holding our breath, we should speed the exercise up but keep the ratio consistent for the three phases. Only while practicing we can get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.


What research shows?

When we are stressed out, the sympathetic nervous system – responsible for your fight-or-flight response – becomes overly active, which makes us feel overstimulated and not ready to relax and fall asleep, Dasgupta announced.

The 4-7-8 breathing practice can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system responsible for resting and digesting, which reduces sympathetic activity and put the body in a state more conducive to restful sleep.

Activating the parasympathetic system also gives an anxious brain something to focus on besides “why am I not sleeping?” Tal said.

According to a study published in July 2022 by a team of researchers based in Thailand, an experiment on 43 healthy young adults took place showing the immediate effects of 4-7-8 breathing on heart rate and blood pressure.

The health factors and the measurements of the fasting blood glucose were taken before the experimentation, then the participants started performing 4-7-8 breathing for six cycles per set for three sets, interspersed with one minute of normal breathing between each set.

After reviewing the results, Researchers found that the technique improved participants’ heart rate and blood pressure.

Other experts demonstrate that slow breathing like the 4-7-8 technique reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and improves pulmonary function.


What to expect?

The 4-7-8 technique is relatively safe, but if you’re a beginner, you could feel a little lightheaded at first. In other words, the more you practice the 4-7-8 technique, the better you’ll become, and the more your body and mind will incorporate it into your usual roster of tools for managing stress and anxiety, Dasgupta said and he has explained it below from a scientific point of view:

“Normal breathing is a balance between breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. When you upset this balance by exhaling more than you inhale, (it) causes a rapid reduction in carbon dioxide in the body,” he said. “Low carbon dioxide levels lead to narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. This reduction in blood supply to the brain leads to symptoms like lightheadedness. This is why it is often recommended to start slowly and practice three to four cycles at a time until you are comfortable with the technique.”

 Many people combine this method with other relaxation practices such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, mindfulness or meditation.

Robbins added that unmanaged stress can rear its head in the form of sleep difficulties.

We can learn from everything mentioned above that when we can manage our stress over the course of the day while implementing some of these breathing techniques, we can put ourselves in the driver’s seat instead of being victim to events that happen in our lives.

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