For many years I never knew there was such a thing as breathing exercises to help with sleep.
Actually, to be honest, I never knew that there were specific breathing exercises that could help you with a variety of mental, emotional and physical issues.
I mean we just breathe to survive don’t we?
It’s a natural part of our being.
It’s just something we do instinctively.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Oh, how wrong could I be?
As it turns out there are various breathing exercises to help with sleep and in the main these are used to help reduce stress and anxiety by making you focus on something other than what’s going on in your mind.
I feel a little embarrassed to admit this, but after all my talk about breathing being something instinctive, natural, and just something we do – well, it turns out I’ve been breathing incorrectly for most of my life.
And yet, somehow I’m still alive.
Okay, perhaps I haven’t actually been breathing incorrectly, but maybe I just made some very dumb assumptions.
It wasn’t until I was well and truly into adulthood that I realized that as we inhale the stomach should rise and when we exhale the stomach should fall.
I always assumed it was the other way around, plus I’m not entirely sure how I made this groundbreaking discovery.
Anyway, back to the point.
Focusing on how we breathe is actually an age-old method for calming the mind, and in turn the body too.
And one of the major causes of being unable to sleep is the inability to turn the mind off – well I know this has always been the case for me.
So, with abdominal breathing you really do have to try to totally focus on the rise and fall of the stomach.
The way I like to do this is by having one hand on my chest and one hand on my stomach.
Always inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
When you first try this breathing exercise, as you inhale, you may have to almost “force” the stomach to rise, but over time this will become more natural and easier.
I must admit that this is a technique I have “stolen” from my mindfulness meditation practice (something I do every morning upon awakening), but it works just as well to help me to sleep.
While lying in bed, as I say, I place one hand on my stomach and one hand on my chest,
I inhale through my nose for a count of four, while feeling my stomach rise, and then exhale through my mouth, while feeling my stomach fall.
I will typically complete this breathing exercise for 5-10 minutes (or even until I simply nod off).
It sounds ever so easy, but I find that this breathing exercise takes my mind away from my stresses and anxiety of the day and helps me to focus solely on my breathing.
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The Countdown Method
The next one of the breathing exercises to help with sleep is simplicity itself.
This technique focuses on your exhale while you try to remain as relaxed as possible.
As you lie on your back in bed I want you to initially concentrate on your body.
Have your feet ever so slightly turned out to the side, arms by your side, palms facing upwards.
Really feel yourself sinking into the mattress, feel the warmth and the comfort and then close your eyes.
The easiest method is to countdown (in your mind) from 100 to 1 every time you exhale.
As you exhale and count, feel the bed supporting you and relax.
Once again this breathing exercise is aimed at taking the mind away from whatever you’re thinking about and concentrating on your breath (and counting).
There are actually many variations to this technique – you could count down from 200 in multiples of 3’s, you can count from 1 to 10 and back down from 10 to 1 again.
Just go with whatever feels best for you and keep counting and concentrating on your breath until you begin to feel sleepy.
Trust me, it will eventually happen.
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Use Images and Self Talk
The final breathing exercise to help with sleep is a way to relax and almost “cleanse” the mind and body.
This technique should be done before you actually get into bed.
There are a number of different ways to practice this breathing exercise, although I have my own method.
Typically, just before bed I would set a timer for 10 minutes.
I would either complete this breathing exercise downstairs on the couch or sitting on the edge of my bed.
I sit comfortably, close my eyes, and rest the palms of my hands on my thighs.
I imagine that my body is filled with light blue air/gas/smoke (I find it hard to describe exactly what it is) – this blue air signifies all my worries, stresses and anxiety.
As I inhale through my nose I repeat to myself (in my mind) a word, usually either “calm”, “soothe” or “relax”.
As I exhale through my mouth I imagine that I am emptying this blue air from my body.
I start at my feet, and work my way up through my body, each exhale emptying more of this blue air (worry, stress, and anxiety).
I continue this technique, which usually lasts for the full 10 minutes I have set on a timer, until I have expelled all the blue air from my body.
This is much the same as the other breathing exercises in that I am focusing my mind on my breathing, although this time I am also using visualization to empty my body of the blue air, basically whatever is on my mind.
At the same time I am also calming myself down by talking to myself.
Admittedly, the first time I ever tried this technique I felt a little silly.
I mean, I’m talking to myself, while imagining a weird blue gas or air inside my body.
However, once I managed to overcome my initial misgivings this technique actually helped to relax me a LOT – which of course is an ideal way to help with sleep.
Asleep in 60 Seconds With 4 7 8 Breathing Exercise
7 More Breathing Exercises To Help With Sleep
The 7 Day Mind Balancing Plan is an online program aimed at improving the quantity and quality of your sleep by using a number of different breathing exercises and techniques.
However, the actual intention of this program is to help you improve the overall quality of your life in terms of your thinking, your energy, and your productivity. And this can be achieved by first focusing on getting a great night’s sleep.
You will be introduced to the “3-minute sleep ritual” as well as various other methods to help you sleep at night and keep you alert and motivated during the day.
To discover more please check out my 7 Day Mind Balancing Plan Review.
As I’ve mentioned, using breathing exercises to help with sleep all seemed a little alien to me.
In fact, I ignored breathing techniques for many years (to my detriment) because they just seemed worthless and stupid to me.
However, I have done a lot of “work on myself” over the last 2-3 years, in terms of controlling my mind and managing my stress and anxiety levels.
There are many practices that I have now incorporated into my daily life and to be honest I wish I had heard of (and tried) breathing exercises a lot sooner.
Please do try some of the above techniques to help you to sleep and you may find that you’ll be very surprised at their success rate.