When you travel, you know the feeling. You are so tired that you can’t sleep, and what about the airplane too? These eight sets of breathing exercises for sleep are for travelers or anyone who finds it difficult to sleep during any time of the day.
Try them anywhere; in your bed or the airplane, or even in your camping tent. They work.
You don’t have to be a yogi to use these techniques. They are suitable for everyone, especially when things move fast and we strive to stay focused.
The critical element in breathing exercises for sleep is the same as in all things: Concentration.
The following exercises will help you achieve relaxation and sleep in almost all circumstances. If you are a tech lover, check out this white noise gadget.
Also, read this post in happiness.
Before you start your Breathing Exercises For Sleep
Before starting any of the techniques, close your eyes. That simple thing will cut out all distractions. Just focus on your breath. Do not try to control it. It happens naturally during the day and night anyway.
It won’t happen! Many try to control their breathing, “forcing” it to become rhythmic and “natural.” Doing that makes you think more and can cause headaches and some anxiety.
Choose any of the following techniques that suit you best—no worries about “having” to do all.
You can use them to relax (i.e., sit) or sleep. For that, do practice them in a place where you feel comfortable relaxing or sleeping.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
How to try this breathing technique:
- Close your eyes.
- Let your lips slightly open. Please do not force them. Just let them be.
- Exhale completely.
- Inhale for 4 seconds and close your lips (not forcefully) simultaneously.
- Keep your breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale for 8 seconds.
- Repeat this cycle four times in your first attempts and for eight maximum
This is a slight variation of Pranayama’s breathing. Pranayama is -among other things- an ancient yogic technique that helps people relax and replenish oxygen in their bodies.
The Bhramari Pranayama Exercise
How to try this breathing technique:
- Close your eyes.
- Inhale and exhale deeply, once.
- Cover your ears with your hands.
- Place your fingers like that: Your fingers need to be over your eyebrows and the rest of your fingers over your eyes.
- Next, gently press your fingers at the sides of your nose and focus on your eyebrows area. Do not block your nostrils from letting air in.
- Keep your mouth close and slowly inhale from your nose, vocalizing the sound “Om.”
- Repeat this for five cycles.
Bhramari Pranayama is used to slow down breathing and heart rate, a prerequisite for falling asleep.
The 3 Parts Breathing Exercise
To perform this breathing technique, follow these three steps:
- Inhale deep and as naturally long as possible.
- Complete exhale while having your attention on your body and how you feel.
- Do this a few times until you notice that you exhale longer than you inhale.
The Solar Plexus Breathing Exercise
To do this kind of breathing:
- Lie down.
- Place a pillow under the back of your knees. If not possible to lie down, then sit on a chair.
- Place one of your hands on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Inhale slowly and deeply from your nose while keeping your hands, as mentioned.
- Do not press your hands. Let them be, and they will naturally move up as you breathe in.
- Exhale, keeping your lips closed.
- Repeat. At some point, you can breathe without your chest moving up and down. This is a sign of getting deeply relaxed.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama Exercise
How to do this breathing technique simply:
- Sit down with your legs crossed.
- Place your left hand on your knee and your right thumb on the side of your right nostril.
- Exhale entirely and press your right nostril to block air intake from that one.
- Exhale from your left nostril (of course).
- Inhale from your nostril.
- Release your thumb from your right nostril side and close your left.
- Exhale from your right nostril while having the left one closed.
- Repeat this rotation of steps for 5 minutes or as long as you feel comfortable (do not push yourself). The last cycle is good to find you exhaling through your left nostril.
That is an effective technique that can reduce stress, relax you and get you focused.
The Papworth Breathing Exercise
In this method, you focus on your solar plexus:
- Sit straight on your bed.
- Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply, counting up to the number 4 on each.
- Inhale must be done through your nose, while exhale can be done through your mouth or nose.
- Focus on your belly, observing it filling with air and getting empty again. Stay focused, doing that as if breathing happens/sounds from your stomach.
This method can help reduce yawning.
The Kapalbhati Breathing Exercise
This breathing calms down rapid breathing by allegedly reducing carbon dioxide. This technique happens in 4 steps:
- Inhale deeply from your nose, like smelling something pleasant.
- Slightly press your lips like holding a cigarette with them.
- Exhale through your lips three times slower than the inhalation time.
- Repeat until your feel calm and sleepy.
The Box Breathing Exercise
During this kind of breathing, you focus on the amount of oxygen you take in and release:
- Sit with your back straight and inhale.
- Then try to push all that air outside from your lungs.
- Slowly inhale from your nose and -mentally- count to 4, filling your lungs with air on every number.
- Keep your breath while mentally counting to 4.
- Exhale slowly from your mouth, focusing on really pushing out all the oxygen from your lungs.
The “box technique” is a practice common in meditation, aiming to find your center and relax. Meditation is a critical practice for your health.
Conclusions on the Breathing Exercises For Sleep
Using these breathing exercises for sleep or relaxation after a hard day’s work, a day trip, or after a hiking trip will bring lots of benefits to your health. Try each of these exercises for a few days. You will find the most suitable for you.
Some of these can be done while sitting in your office, while others need you to lie down.
Find a calm, quiet place and practice them. At a more “advanced” level, you may practice some of the sitting ones during any time of the day.
Why? Because breathing correctly during the day can give you peace of mind all day long (or as much as possible).
Have fun and explore!
Feel free to read this post on walking meditation in nature and this one for Meditation Vs Sleep – The Difference Between Them.