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Sleep Expert Shares Breathing Hack For Getting Back To Sleep

Isobel Pankhurst

Published 
| Last updated 

Sleep Expert Shares Breathing Hack For Getting Back To Sleep

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

There's nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to get back to sleep.

You can toss and turn, and even try counting sheep, but for some reason sleep just won't come to you.

Phil Lawlor, a sleep expert from Dormeo UK, explained: "When you are feeling stressed, your body will activate your sympathetic nervous systems, this may lead to you waking up randomly in the night."

Unfortunately this stress may not just wake you up but also stop you from being able to get back to sleep.

Lawlor suggests breathing exercises to calm you down allow your body to prepare to sleep.

Credit:  Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

He explains that: "It can slow down functions in your body that can keep you feeling tense and anxious, such as your nervous system."

One recommended exercise is the 4-7-8 technique.

This is when you inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.

Once your body is calm and your mind clear you should begin to feel yourself falling back into sleep.

If this doesn't work you there are a number of other techniques to try.

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Lawlor also suggests using ‘paradoxical intention’, a strategy used to treat people with anxiety, insomnia and intense phobias.

He explains: "Often when people suffer with insomnia, they are over thinking falling asleep and this can lead to more anxiety about falling asleep and further sleep deprivation.

"Paradoxical intention is a therapeutic procedure that encourages people to stop obsessing over trying to fall asleep and instead staying awake for as long as possible.

"Through attempting to stay awake, sleep may occur more easily."

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Other breathing exercises to aid in sleep include the army technique favoured by fitness expert Justin Agustin.

This technique involves relaxing your body as well breathing, and can take time to get used to - but certainly works for the military personnel who swear by it. The technique was originally created for fighter pilots.

All you need to do is relax each part of your body in turn from head to toe and imagine one of two scenarios: "One - you’re lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but a clear blue sky above you. Two - you’re lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch black room.

“At any time when you start thinking of anything else or you start getting distracted, repeat these words for 10 seconds: ‘Don't think, don't think, don't think.’” 

If attempting the army technique, Agustin recommended that you should practice this every night for six weeks, adding: "Apparently, 96 percent of people who mastered this technique are actually able to fall asleep within two minutes of shutting their eyes." 

Topics: Sleep, Science, Health

Isobel Pankhurst
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