How to breathe yourself to sleep
The struggle for a good nights sleep?
It is extremely common for people to struggle to get to sleep or find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, being left unable to get themselves back to sleep. Studies have found that roughly 50% of the UK population will struggle to get to sleep at least once per month. But what’s the big problem with that?
In the short term you will probably experience fatigue, a short temper and lack of focus. However, the long term impact can be far more serious, with poor sleep health being linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a shortened life expectancy. You can read more on the NHS website here.
The solution, well one of them
Lower your stress levels and try to shift your brain away from the fight or flight state that is keeping your mind active. Sleep stress can be caused by anxiety, depression, and the emotional distresses of everyday life, one or all of which we are likely to suffer from, but how can we minimise their impact when it comes time to hit the hay?
Breath work is a great way to destress yourself, as it will help to lower Cortisol levels throughout the day so you are not swamped by the hormone at bedtime.
What is breath work though?
Quite simply it is the conscious practice of focusing on and controlling your breathing, and we have a few different techniques for you to give a try:
- Sigh breaths: which are exactly what they sound like. Get yourself into a comfortable, relaxed position, take a deep slow breath from your diaphragm, and breathe out with a steady loud sigh. It may feel a little strange at first, but you should feel an immediate calming release after 2 or 3 sighs!
- Box breathing: This is a great simple technique that you can do in any situation where you feel the onset of stress. Take a slow breath through your nose whilst counting to 3, hold the breath for a further 3 seconds, then calmly breath out through your mouth for 3 seconds. Take a slight pause then repeat as many times as it takes for you to feel calm and relaxed.