The Breathing Trick That Will Have You Asleep In 60 Seconds Flat

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woman sleeping soundly on her side in bed
Self

For those who suffer from insomnia, getting to sleep is a daily struggle. You may try taking sleeping pills, avoid drinking coffee, or stop using your phone a few hours before bed.

But still, nothing seems to work. What do you do? How can you finally fall asleep?

The good news is that there is one technique that may actually help you fall asleep.

Yes, there are many things you can do to fall asleep when insomnia rears its ugly head. But before you take the hard route by changing your mattress or working out, you should try to change how you breathe.

Dr. Andrew Weill created a breathing technique focused on 4-7-8 breathing, or "Relaxing Breath," to fall asleep. It's inspired by yoga and should only take 60 seconds to work.

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Imagine: falling asleep in just 60 seconds flat! Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, luckily the 4-7-8 breathing technique only has six simple steps:

1. Touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue and keep there throughout the exercise.

2. Exhale forcefully to the point where you make a sound similar to a "whoosh."

3. Close your mouth then inhale softly through your nose. Count to four.

4. Hold your breath and count to seven.

5. Repeat step 2 and count to eight as you exhale.

6. Repeat this cycle three times for a total of four breaths.

What makes this technique work?

According to Dr. Weill, "Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing, and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders."

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Dr Weill also offers two additional breathing routines to fall asleep.

One routine is stimulating breath or "Bellows Breath." You do this by taking three in-and-out breaths per second through your nose.

After doing this breathing exercise properly, Dr. Weill advises that "you may feel invigorated, comparable to the heightened awareness you feel after a good workout." However, he also warns not to do this technique longer than 15 seconds on your first try.

Here's how to do the Bellows Breath technique:

1. Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Be sure the in-and-out breaths are for the same amount of time, and be mindful that the exercise itself will make noise.

2. Aim for three in-and-out breaths per second. Then, begin breathing normally again after each cycle.

3. Increase your time by about five seconds each time you try this exercise, until you reach one full minute.

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Lastly, there is "Breath Counting."

"Breath Counting" is where you inhale, and count while exhaling. You continue this rhythm up to five, then start all over after a small break.

Dr. Weill advises to "let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary." He also recommends not counting higher than five, and only counting when you exhale.

Here's how to do the Breath Counting technique:

1. Sit comfortably with a straight back and spine, and head inclined forward slightly. Take a few breaths and close your eyes.

2. To start, count to one as you exhale. Then, when you exhale the next round, count to two. Continue doing this up until five.

3. Begin a new cycle and count to one on the exhale. Repeat the exercise for 10 minutes, using it as a form of meditation.

These techniques are definitely helpful for those struggling with sleep disorders, or who simply can't fall asleep.

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Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.