It's not surprising that millions of people are interested in breathing techniques to fall asleep faster, as these methods can quiet your mind and prepare your body for sleep after a busy day. Instead of logging into your favorite app for sleep and hoping you doze off before the program is over, try the expert-approved 4-6-7 Technique to fall asleep fast.
The 4-6-7 Technique
"The body basically needs a heart rate of below 60 to enter into a state of sleep," the Sleep Doctor founder Michael Breus, PhD, told Prevention. (Normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, according to the Mayo Clinic.) To lower your heart rate to optimal levels for sleep, Dr. Breus recommends the following:
- Breathe in and count to four
- Hold your breath for six seconds
- Breathe out slowly for seven seconds
Breus estimates that you'll drift off to dreamland in 10 to 20 minutes, which is definitely preferable to tossing and turning for an hour. Another benefit of the 4-6-7 Technique is that your mind will be so focused on timing your breathing that it will be hard for your thoughts to wander. It's not uncommon to mentally rewind and process your day while in bed, but playing back the day's events shouldn't send your mind racing.
"Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body," according to stress-management tips from the University of Michigan. "This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax."
So, basically, keep calm and carry on (with the deep breaths)!