We all know how much the lack of sleep affects the quality of life. All of us have resorted to staying up late at night glued to our phones or watching television because we could not sleep at all.
As the result, we did oversleep and miss more than a few morning classes and appointments. The lack of adequate sleep did more harm than good.
Without good quality sleep, it gets tough for the body to restore energy, to repair muscle tissues, and to process new information. Sleep is important for our health and this point is confirmed by science.
The statistics from the study conducted in 2019 concludes that 50% of adults around the world recognize sleep as an important determiner of health.
Also, a shocking 62% of the adult population say that they don’t sleep that well. No wonder poor sleep quality is becoming a common problem nowadays.
Given that all of us work for long hours with tightly packed schedules, it is no surprise that stress and anxiety affect the quality of sleep.
According to one survey, an estimate of 54% of adults around the world state that stress and worry affect their sleep. As stress and worry affect the body, you tend to experience a heightened state of alertness.
As the result, one might not be able to fall asleep easily. Using breathing techniques and exercises, you can help your body to relax so that you can catch good quality sleep and wake up feeling fresh.
BREATHING TECHNIQUES AND SLEEPING PROBLEMS
After a stressful day, all you need to do is take a few minutes to work on your breathing for good sleep. Research proves that you reap a lot of benefits by paying attention to your breath. One study shows that mindfulness meditation, a technique that focuses on breath training and present moment awareness improves sleep quality and fights insomnia.
“Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response”, says Dr. Herbert Benson, an American medical doctor. He adds that eliciting a relaxation response from the body helps in easing out stress-related problems such as high blood pressure, pain, and depression.
Another study points out that 8 weeks of mindfulness practice has the potential to improve your sleep quality. A series of experiments conducted found that mindfulness-based training helps to reduce the practice of ruminating over thoughts.
Mindfulness enables individuals to adopt a neutral attitude towards negative and unwanted thoughts. This kind of attitude building helps to curb spikes in anxiety levels and help you to sleep better.
Given below are two simple techniques that can help you to relax and fall asleep quickly. The first technique is about choosing a good calming focus. You can use your breath, a sound, a positive word, or a phrase.
If you choose a phrase like “I am peaceful”, keep repeating the phrase as you inhale and exhale. Slowly, you find sleep coming to you. In the second technique, you can simply meditate on your breath.
As you lie down on your bed comfortably, notice your breath. Note how you inhale and exhale air. Notice if your breath is steady, slow, long, or deep. Paying complete attention to your breath can help you to easily fall asleep.
BREATHING EXERCISES IMPROVE SLEEP QUALITY
Breathing exercises can also help you to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety that disturbs your sleep. Research shows that deep abdominal breathing can help you alleviate anxiety symptoms like shallow breathing, restless mind, tensed muscles, and quickened heart rate.
The process of shallow breathing can be described as inhaling a very less amount of air into the lungs. One reason we breathe shallowly is due to stress. This kind of breathing lowers the level of oxygen in your body and triggers anxiety.
As you practice deep breathing, you consciously inhale deeply. As the result, the level of oxygen in the blood increases. You, also, activate the parasympathetic nervous system which, in turn, calms your body down.
In this system, there is a part called the Vagus nerve which gets activated as you breathe deeply. As the Vagus nerve is triggered, your blood pressure goes down and your muscles relax.
You can try out other breathing exercises for variation. There is a breathing exercise invented by Dr. Andrew Weil called the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. The exercise is very simple. You breathe in through the nose till the count of 4. Hold the breath until the count of 7. Slowly exhale through the mouth till the count of 8.
Scientifically, it is proved that the 4-7-8 breathing exercise will help you to wake up feeling refreshed. You wake up feeling good because you train your mind to focus on your inhale, hold, and exhale ratio.
To divert your attention from negative thoughts, you use breath as the anchor to divert your attention and calm yourself down to sleep. Another exercise to help you improve sleep is called Moon Breathing.
The mechanism of moon breathing involves blocking the right nostril and breathing only through the left nostril. Doing this will calm down the nervous system of your body and help you get good sleep.