Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you regularly toss and turn and stare at the ceiling for what feels like hours before you finally lull off to dreamland? If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Sleep Association, about 50 – 70 million people in the United States suffer from chronic long-term sleep disorders.
Given the importance of a full night’s rest, these statistics are quite concerning. Sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life. While there is no simple solution for sleeping problems, by changing your routine, outlook, and habits, you can profoundly impact how you sleep. In today’s article, we are going to talk about one particular method that can potentially help improve the quality of your sleep: breathing exercises.
Experiment with these breathing exercises before lying down to go to bed.
Focusing on your breath is a common totem in the world of meditation. While it can take a lifetime to master meditation, it only takes a beginner to start reaping the benefits of meditation, specifically the type of relaxation that helps foster sleep. To experiment with meditative breathing, sit down with your back straight, close your eyes, and focus on your natural breath and anchor your attention to the present moment. If needed, progressively lengthen your breaths. For example, for the first exhale, count to one. Then two, three, four, and five. Once you reach five, begin again at one. By adhering to this pattern, you can get your mind to focus on your breath, not the anxiety that is likely contributing to keeping you awake. Try to do this exercise for 5 – 10 minutes.
Alternating Nostril Breathing
There’s a reason we pant and breath heavy when we are nervous or excited. If you find yourself feeling anxious and nervous before bed, try to enter a relaxed and steady state by focusing on nasal breathing. This technique is originally a yoga breathing control method called nadi shodhana. It works by sitting up and breathing in through one nostril while holding the other. When you exhale, release your nostril and then do the same thing with the other nostril. Simple.
Visualizing Your Breathing
A strong visualization can be a powerful motivator. The same is true for breathing, relaxing, and sleeping. To put this technique in place, try to envision the air traveling into your body as you inhale. Imagine it entering your nose, traveling through your body, and then out again. Picture it reaching all of your muscles from fingers to toes. As you scan your body, notice the areas where you feel tension. Focus on these areas, and direct your breath into that area of your body to help you release that tension. By focusing on your breath in this way, you can engage your parasympathetic system and lower your heart rate, encourage relaxation, and prime your body for sleep.
The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle at the base of your lungs. Diaphragmatic breathing is intended to help you use your diaphragm correctly. To try out this breathing exercise, lie on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent — you can use pillows to support your head and legs if needed. Place one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your chest. Take five deep breaths, inhale for three seconds, and then exhale for another three seconds. Try to direct your focus on the way your hand rises and falls with your inhales and exhales.
Looking For An Affordable Breathing Program?
Strength Therapy is proud to offer an easy-to-follow Breathing Optimization Program. This program simplifies breathing exercises, allowing you to take full control of your breath and expedite the benefits of improved breathing techniques, including improving relaxation and sleep. Over the course of our breathing program, you will learn how to identify your breathing style, and then based on this guide, you will be able to learn specific ways to help improve your individual breathing habits. In addition to helping you relax and sleep better, regularly doing breathing exercises and practicing proper breathing techniques can help improve lung efficiency, heart function, muscle strength, and overall health. Learn more about our breathing program here.