It’s 10:30 pm and I’m exhausted from the day. My feet are tired, my eyelids heavy and I just cannot stay awake another minute.
I head to bed, change in my pajamas, and wash my face. I take a glance in the mirror and think about how I should probably buy a wrinkle cream or something. My eyes just look so tired. I don’t remember them looking that way.
I finally flop into bed like 3,000 pounds of bricks. I curl up on my side and prepare to enter dreamland.
As my mind starts to relax, I think about those dishes in the sink. I think about how I yelled at my son this afternoon over something really dumb, and I feel bad. I think about that rattling sound the car makes when I drive and I should probably get that checked out. I think about how much I have to do tomorrow.
I toss. And turn. And I just can’t fall asleep. I mean, times a wastin’ right? The hours that I have left to sleep before the sun rises or my child wakes up in the middle of the night are just ticking by. I’m exhausted, and yet, my mind just keeps going.
A few weeks ago I shared a few genius sleep hacks for the tired mom and I love them all. They totally work. But I also tried something else—another sleep hack for the tired mom—and I honestly love it. It’s helped me fall asleep faster and forget about the ten thousand things I have to do tomorrow. Because sleep is a must.
Have you tried it?
It’s called the 4-7-8 sleep technique from Dr. Andrew Weil. Some people claim you can fall asleep in under one minute if you use it correctly and practice over a period of weeks.
Under one minute? I thought this had to be a joke! I had to try it of course. I had to see if it would really work.
Here’s how you do 4-7-8.
Exhale completely. Then inhale for a count of 4. Then hold your breath for a count of 7. Then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat for 4 cycles.
Dr. Weil recommends that you do this breathing exercise at least twice per day every day. He claims that you might not notice a difference on the first try. Hence the practice.
Over a period of 4-6 weeks, you will start to notice a huge difference when using this technique to fall asleep faster. The technique effectively slows your heart rate and increases oxygen in your bloodstream. You may even feel slightly lightheaded which contributes relaxed state of consciousness. Overall this technique will relax your heart, mind, and overall central nervous system.
So does it really work?
I’ve been using this for a couple of weeks now, and it’s definitely helping. I don’t fall asleep in less than 1 minute. That seems like a bit of a stretch even for this skeptic turned convert. But I would say falling asleep in under 5 minutes is realistic, and under 10 minutes a surefire thing.
When I use the breathing technique to slow my heart rate down, my mind has absolutely no choice but to slow down too.
This is also the reason, I do deep breathing with my son before bedtime. We take deep breaths together every night. We don’t do the 4-7-8 technique, but we do deep breathing, and it’s become such part of our everyday routine that he usually starts up with just a cue from me. Great way to calm kids down before bedtime, by the way.
You know what else this 4-7-8 technique is great for?
- When you’re really angry
- When you need to relax at the end of the day
- When someone cuts you off in traffic
- When you are about to yell at your kids for no reason
- When your day is just going all wrong
- When you are feeling really anxious
The list is endless really. Any time you need to calm down, you can use this technique right out of your back pocket. It’s totally free. It only takes a minute or so. And yes, it actually does work.
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