One of the first things people ask me is how they can get a good night of sleep using breathing techniques.
Generally speaking, I do not have a problem sleeping. I was blissfully happy with the 7 or 8 hours of sleep I got every night, so I felt that imposter syndrome when I gave them tips on how they could get a good night’s sleep.
That was until about four months ago!
There are many changes happening in my life at the moment. I will not bore you with the details, but I will say that it is an emotional rollercoaster, and my sleep is no longer blissfully 7 or 8 hours!
Interestingly, my lack of sleep over the past few months resulted in my immune system becoming weak, and I caught Covid for the first time ten days ago. I have also recognised that my heart rate has increased in the last few months. So I am making more of an effort now to get my Circadian cycle back into a rhythm that is conducive to better sleeping habits.
Your body can cope with one or two bad nights of sleep, but when it’s every night, it becomes a problem! Other than feeling tired, grumpy, irritable and forgetful the next day, there are some serious issues that could get out of hand if you do not sort your sleep out asap!
- Weakened immunity
- Risk of diabetes increases
- Risk of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Lowered sex drive
For more details about how sleep deprivation causes these types of problems, check out this link; https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body
So let us discuss what we can do to get a better night’s sleep.
Firstly I will tell you what the science says, then I will tell you what my evening routine is, and finally, I will mention some breathing techniques you could try.
One thing to understand is that a good night’s sleep does not begin when you close your eyes at night; it starts the moment you wake up in the morning. Everything you do during your waking hours affects how well you sleep that night.
The science behind optimal sleep;
- Go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, including at weekends.
- Stand outside first thing in the morning to get your circadian cycle started. You want to expose your eyes to natural light for 10-20 minutes, depending on the brightness. Obviously, do not look directly at the sun if it is already high in the sky. It should not be a painful experience!
- Do the same in the late afternoon, before the sun begins to set.
- Stay away from caffeine after 3 pm.
- Your body does not go into the restorative REM sleep cycle if you consume alcohol or use sleeping tablets to fall asleep.
- Research shows that Melatonin as a sleeping aid should be used with extreme caution.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal just before going to bed. If possible, have your last meal 3 hours before sleep.
- Don’t view artificial stimulants for an hour or two before sleep. That includes the TV, phones, and bright lights.
- Turn the lights down low in the evenings.
- Breathe through your nose, during the day and at night. Use mouth tape at night if you find that your mouth is dry in the morning or if you wake up regularly to go to the toilet.
- Ensure that your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.
- Exercise during the day; even a brisk walk outside will help.
My personal routine for getting a good night’s rest;
- Enjoy a mug of camomile tea an hour before bed. I say an hour because I don’t want to be woken up halfway through the night to go to the toilet.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. One of the main reasons why I struggle to sleep at night is that I am dehydrated.
- Find a good magnesium supplement. I take this with my camomile tea.
- Read a book for 15-20 minutes before lights out.
- When I close my eyes, I do a body scan. Generally, I find that I need to make an effort to relax the muscles in my forehead and jawline.
- If I am not asleep after about 35 minutes, I get up and make some warm oat milk (about 150ml) with a sprinkle of cinnamon. After drinking this, I start the whole process of reading and body scan again.
- If I wake up in the middle of the night, I do not check the time! If I do, game over. I will start calculating how many hours of sleep I have had and how many hours are left….tick tick tick!
Breathing techniques to help you sleep;
I personally don’t use breathing techniques to fall asleep. I get way too involved in the process, which leaves me more awake than when I started.
However, others swear by them, so I suggest you try and see if it works for you.
- Ujjayi breath (Ocean breath) Breathe in and out through your nostrils but imagine that you are breathing through a tiny hole in your throat, creating a vibrational feeling and a sound like the ocean.
- 4:7:8 Inhale for four counts, hold your breath for seven and exhale to the count of eight.
- Coherent breathing, inhale for five, exhale for five. No pauses! Keep your breath soft and light. Drop the count to four if needed, or increase it to six.
- Left nostril breathing, activation of your right brain, and your parasympathetic nervous system, your rest and digest state.
If you need help with the breathing techniques, book a session with me today.
If anxiety is the cause of your sleepless nights – please contact me!
There are simple and effective techniques that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.