Getting to sleep can be difficult, especially when a person is stressed, depressed, or feels anxious. The 4-7-8 technique is an exercise to help you focus on breathing that is meant to help settle your mind and get to sleep. You take a breath, count to four, then hold your breath while counting to 7, then exhale while counting to eight. The exercise started as a way of regulating breathing while doing yoga, but became popular for other uses during 2015, particularly for integrative medicine. For people having trouble sleeping, it provides a better way of getting to sleep without taking medicine, making it a more natural way to sleep.
What makes it a good exercise is that no equipment or devices are required to do it. This means you can do the exercise while in bed, then just lie down and go to sleep when you finish. Once you become accustomed to the exercise, you can actually do it while lying down, so there is no extra movement before you can just drift off to sleep.
Complete the following steps to practice the exercise.
- Put your tongue against your front teeth.
- Expel your breather through your mouth.
- Close your mouth.
- Take a breath through your nose.
- Hold while you could to 7 slowly.
- Exhale through your mouth while counting to 8.
Do the exercise 4 times, making sure to keep the counts during each phase of the breath. If you aren’t able to hold the air for a count of 7 at first, you can count quicker so that you don’t become anxious or uncomfortable because of the exercise.
It is effective because it helps you to relax by relieving anxiety and stress. When you feel anxiety or stress, it causes you to take shallow breaths. This exercise forces your breathing to slow, which calms your body and mind. This means you can practice it at other times as well to help calm yourself.
Since most people are not accustomed to such deep breathing or holding their breath, it can cause beginners to feel lightheaded. This is why it is recommended to be more careful and aware the first few times. If you find that you need to count a bit faster, you will complete the count before you reach a state of feeling lightheaded. The more often you practice, the easier it will become, and the easier it will be to calm down and get to sleep.
You can watch a video of the exercise at The 4-7-8 Method That Could Help You Sleep.
* O’Connell and Associates provides this article for informational purposes only.