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The 4-7-8 Technique: 60 seconds to sleep

The 4-7-8 technique, developed by Dr Andrew Weil of Harvard University, is inspired by a yoga posture called pranayama

Sleeping well and getting enough sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health, influencing everything from mood and cardiovascular health to cognitive function. It even boosts longevity! Falling asleep the moment you switch your light off is ideal, but taking more than 20 minutes to drift off is a red light that signals sleep issues.
Alongside adopting a good bedtime routine, new solutions are available, like the 4-7-8 technique developed by Harvard University’s Dr. Weil, which he claims can help you fall asleep in just 60 seconds! This simple technique is rooted in the ancient yoga pose pranayama and has no contraindications. It is a way of relaxing the nervous system, acting like a natural tranquillizer, and is achieved by controlling and, if necessary, correcting our breathing patterns. It involves filling the lower part of the lungs with oxygen, which balances the nervous system and promotes deep relaxation.
The 4-7-8 technique consists of four steps. It’s best to choose a rhythm that’s comfortable for you – not too slow or fast. First, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth, where the roof of your mouth starts. Then, close your mouth and breathe in for four seconds. Next, take another breath and hold (apnoea) for seven seconds, then exhale fully and slowly for eight seconds.
Now, repeat the whole process three times. The repetitive breathing pattern of the 4-7-8 technique helps calm the mind by providing a distraction. With your mind concentrating on coordinating each step, it is set free from other concerns and can focus on the task at hand. Also, regular, rhythmic breathing slows your heart rate, allowing the built-up tiredness of the day to kick in and lull you into a deep, restorative sleep.


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