Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep

breathing exercises to reduce stress

Introduce these breathing exercises into your daily routine.

Are you feeling a little stressed? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Studies found that three-quarters of Americans have experienced some stress in the past month, and one quarter have been extremely stressed. Stress can negatively impact your daily life, including the quality and quantity of sleep. In fact, it was found that 1 in 3 Americans isn’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

Sleep deprivation can result in numerous health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure, along with irritability, fatigue, and decreased productivity. It can be hard to let go of stress to get a good night’s sleep but know that it is entirely possible. The answer lies in your breathing.

To help you get a better night’s sleep and reduce your stress, start practicing these breathing exercises.

Equal Breathing

Firstly, inhale through the nose to a count of 4, then exhale through the nose for a count of 4. You can then start to increase the seconds for which you inhale and exhale. The key is to make sure the numbers are equal. Practiced yogis tend to do 6 or 8 counts per breath. You can do this technique anytime, anywhere. Focusing on the counts per breath calms your nervous system and reduces stress, so this is a great technique to do before you sleep.

The 4-7-8

Practitioners claim to fall asleep in less than a minute of doing this exercise. Start by lying flat in your bed. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth and inhale through your nose, counting to 4. Hold the breath for 7 counts before releasing. Then, exhale through your mouth (but keep your tongue in the same position) while counting to 8. These deep, long breaths allow your body and mind to relax and settle into a comfortable night’s sleep.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This method of breathing has a long history in yoga as a way to restore the energetic balance between the two hemispheres of the brain. To practice, hold the left thumb over the left nostril and inhale deeply through the right. Before breathing out, close off the right nostril with the ring finger, exhaling through the left nostril. This is a great technique to try before an important meeting or when you’re feeling lethargic during the day.


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