Two Breathing Exercises for Better Sleep
1) Lie in bed on your back with your hands by your sides or resting on your abdomen. Your body should be flat, so if you have a high pillow, remove it. Breathe slowly, smoothly, and deeply through your nose throughout the exercise. As you breathe in gently, expand your abdomen; as you breathe out, let your abdomen fall back into place. This ensures true, deep breathing.
2) All you have to do is mentally count your breaths up to ten. You can either count your inhalations or your exhalations. Here's the catch though: every time your mind wanders and you lose count, you must start from one again. Each time you reach ten, start at one again. Continue like this and you will fall asleep.
This breathing pattern relaxes the body by subtly stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby inducing a state of relaxation.
As you lie in bed, gently slow down the rate of exhalation until you exhale for twice as long as you inhale. You can coax a longer exhalation by contracting the abdomen slightly. Don’t try to fill or empty or empty the lungs completely. You are simply changing the rhythm of your breath. In the beginning, it may help to count to eight on the exhalation and four on the inhalation, or sex on the exhalation and three on the inhalation (or any other 2-to-1 ratio you find comfortable. Focus on the smoothness and evenness of your breath, gradually eliminating any jerks and pauses.
Do one of these breathing exercises every night whether you have sleep problems or not. It will improve the quality of your sleep and most likely reduce the amount of sleep you need.
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