Plagued by anxiety night after night? Relying on over-the-counter meds? Just not getting the seven hours your body requires? If any of this sounds all too familiar, this breathing trick will help you get to bed sooner — no prescriptions required.
The exercise is called the 4-7-8 technique, and Dr. Andrew Weil calls it a "natural tranquilizer for the nervous system." Study after study has linked meditation to lowered stress levels, and this easy-to-follow exercise will help you reap some of the de-stressing benefits that come along with consistent meditation practice.
Beyond bedtime, Dr. Weil recommends performing this exercise whenever dealing with a stressful situation. The next time you can't curb sugar cravings, get into a fight with your partner, or can't hit the hay because you're overwhelmed, try it out for yourself. You'll start feeling more relaxed immediately. Here's how to do it:
1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
6. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat three more times for a total of four cycles.
For more explanation, plus a video tutorial, check out this video: