5 Simple Breathing Exercises for Reducing Anxiety and Improving Sleep

Breathing is essential for achieving a clear state of mind apart from bestowing other physical benefits. Of the many boons that these breathing exercises bring, relaxing the stress and anxiety and assisting you to sleep are the greatest ones.

The digital revolution along with the hectic lifestyles have made it impossible to sleep sufficiently as there is a constant need to stay connected. Moreover, the cut-throat competition has also enhanced the stress levels and anxiety in our lives.

Herein comes the need of the side-effect free breathing exercises. Breathing affects the thought processes and the physiology along with the moods in a very strong way. Here are some breathing techniques that you can use for the same.

  • Meditative Breathing– This is a short meditation prior to going into bed. For this you should sit with the back straight and your head tucked forward slightly. You should lengthen the breath progressively. For exhaling the first time you should count to one. Then count to 2, 3, 4 and 5. After exhaling for the fifth time, you should start over again. By focusing on this pattern, you should keep the mind focused on the breath instead of the anxiety.  Then spare 10 minutes for meditation. This will help you to distress and fall asleep faster.
  • Bhramari Pranayama Technique– Here are some steps to assist you in performing the original Pranayama breathing exercise.
    1. Close the eyes and deeply inhale and exhale.
    2. Cover the ears with the hands.
    3. Then place the index finger one upon the eyebrows and the rest of the fingers over the eyes.
    4. Then push the nose sides gently and focus on the area of the brow.
    5. Keep the mouth closed and exhale though the nose in a slow manner while making the humming sound.
    6. You should repeat this process at least 5 times.

The pranayama has been seen to reduce the breathing and the heart rate. This has been quite soothing and can make the body ready for sleeping.

meditation helps in reducing anxiety - effect of meditation in improving sleep

    • Body Scan Technique– Are you aware of the body scan techniques for helping to relax and fall asleep. This method involves the scanning of your body for the tension signs. This way you can overcome them and doze off. For practicing the technique, you must follow these steps.

    1. Lie down on the bed and focus on the relaxing while exhaling.
    2. Try feeling the bed beneath you and how it supports you as you exhale and relax.
    3. Visualize every part of the body beginning from the head and moving all through the entire body looking for spots that are a bit tensed. As you move through the body breathe out and focus on the relaxation of the tense muscles.
    4. Once you are done with looking for tension throughout the body you should focus on the exhaling. You should repeat a mantra to yourself that assists to induce sleep like some cues that can help you to drift off.

Once you start following this, you can find your body and mind to relax. You will drift off to sleep before you know it.

  • 4-7-8 Relaxing Breathing– You should first place the tongue in a way so that the tip is resting against the tissue ridge behind the upper front teeth. You should keep it there through the exercise. Exhale through the mouth completely which makes a whoosh sound as you do so. After that, close the mouth and inhale through the nose for upto 4 counts. After that, for a count of 7, you should hold the breath. Again, exhale through the mouth for a count of 8. You should repeat this for 3 more times. If you are unable to hold the breath for the entire time you should not panic or give up. The ratio is what is more vital here. That is why count faster until you can work the way upto the slower breaths. Dr. Andrew Weil, the Harvard trained doctor who originated this technique you will start to fall asleep within 60 seconds.
  • Alternate Nasal Breathing– Here a few steps of for the alternate breathing are provided. This is also called nadi shodhana pranayama. For this, you should
    1. Sit with the legs crossed.
    2. Place the left hand on the knee and the right hand against the nose.
    3. Exhale completely and then close the nostril on the right side.
    4. Breathe in through the left one.
    5. Then open the nostril on the right and breathe out through it while keeping the left nostril closed.
    6. You should go on this rotation for just 5 minutes which finishes through the left nostril.

Studies have revealed that people performing breathing exercises usually feel less stressed later on.

The above are some of the breathing techniques that you can try for driving away stress and achieving a good night’s sleep. You should consult with the reputed sleep apnea doctor if you can sleep well or feel relaxed even after using these techniques.

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