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Having Trouble Sleeping? Give The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique A Try

It only takes a few minutes!
The 4-7-8 Sleep Routine Can Help You Get A Good Night's Sleep

Getting a good night's sleep is easier said than done, as those who struggle with snoozing can more than attest. If you fall into that camp, you'll likely have tried everything from yoga and journaling before bed, to counting sheep and investing in a sleep-promising eye mask. But what about the 4-7-8 technique?

Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, an integrative medicine specialist at the University of Arizona, the breathing routine promises to help even the most hardened of insomniacs to drift off. It's also said to be good for those who find themselves waking in the middle of the night.

Keen to try it out for yourself? Dr. Weil told Medical News Today that it's the "single best method I’ve found for dealing with getting back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night".

He also added that consistency is key when it comes to putting the technique into practice, saying, "It's the regularity of doing this over a period of weeks, months, years that produces the changes that you want." Dr. Weil also cites it as a brilliant way of lowering anxiety and controlling angered responses.

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What is the 4-7-8 breathing technique?

Before diving into the breathing pattern, it's recommended that you find yourself a comfy seated or lying down position and rest the tip of your tongue on the tissue directly behind your front teeth (which signals to the body that you are relaxed).

Then, run through the following breathing sequence:

  • Empty your lungs of air by breathing out
  • Breathe in quietly through the nose for a count of four seconds
  • Hold the breath for seven seconds
  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a "whoosh" sound that lasts for eight seconds
  • Repeat the cycle up to four times
The 4-7-8 Sleep Routine Can Help You Get A Good Night's Sleep
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It's said that the most surefire way to see results is to start trialling the technique out twice a day, with Dr Weil adding that people ought to refrain from trying more than four breath cycles in a row until they have plenty of practice under their belt (so as to avoid any lightheadedness).

As for what to keep in mind throughout, the expert says it's more important to keep the ratio, rather than count the total number of seconds (so for example somebody who struggles to hold their breath for a long time might like to adopt a 2 seconds, 3.5 seconds, 4 seconds breathwork sequence instead).

Sadly, whilst this all sounds super straightforward and there's a lot of positive anecdotal evidence to suggest the breathing technique can help you to drift off more soundly, sadly there's not a whole tonne of clinic research to support the claims. So, basically it's not scientifically proven by a long stretch.

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But! It's free and easy to try, so still worth a go?


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.