The New Year is finally upon and many of us are starting to think/dread the return to work and a more regularly pattern to your day. Christmas is such a wonderful time of year, meeting old friends, eating wonderful food and dancing your socks off until dawn but it can wreak havoc on your sleeping?pattern. Your body has grown accustomed to that 11pm to 7am snooze and it's going to take you a while to get that rhythm back.
Even the world's best sleepers find it difficult to switch off sometimes. Whether it's the thought of something stressful looming, or your body just doesn't feel like drifting off on that particular night, we've all been there. The internet's been buzzing of late with whispers of this 4-7-8 sleeping hack that really, really works. Give it a try tonight, you should be feeling prepped to slip into slumber within one to three minutes.
Here's how it works.
You breathe in for four, hold for seven and breathe out for eight whilst making a slight whooshing noise. Sounds incredibly simple, but it's a technique now promoted by Harvard trained doctor, Andrew Weill. It's nothing new either, in fact it's been used since ancient times in India to regulate breathing and was formerly referred to as 'Pranayama'.
It is believed that the 4-7-8 combination works as a natural tranquilizer to the body, allowing for more oxygen to to permeate your lungs and brain which thus reduce your body's stress levels, setting you up for a restful sleep.
Start by exhaling entirely. Then breathe in for four seconds, through your nose. Hold this breath for seven seconds before exhaling to a count of eight, as you allow for a whooshing sound through your throat, mouth open. Repeat three times.
Audibly exhaling is believed to help further regulate your breathing.
It's important to note that this is a technique and something that requires a little patience over time, just like meditation, mindfulness or any kind of focussed breathing. Stick with it, try it nightly (Dr Weill recommends doing it twice a day every day) and before you know your body will be ready to drift off.
A useful, harmless, cost-free tool for anybody to master, we think you'll agree.
Dr. Weill says: "Once you develop this breathing technique by practicing it every day, twice a day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens - before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. Use it to deal with food cravings. Great for mild to moderate anxiety, this exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it."
Of course if you try this technique whilst simultaneously scrolling through your Facebook feed, you will not achieve the desired results. Give yourself a technology cut-off point each night, and make sure it's at least a half an hour before you go to bed.