The vast majority of people require seven to eight hours of sleep to feel fully rested, but 40 percent of Americans get less than that amount. That sleep debt has serious ramifications for productivity, motivation, and creativity, not to mention mood.
So what to do? It feels impossible to find the time to get those seven to eight hours of sleep every night when you’re trying to cram in a full day of top-tier work, plus some semblance of a social life, relaxation time, and a chance to reflect or meditate on it all.
One chunk of time you can easily repurpose beneficially is that agonizing 15-20 minutes (or more) it takes you to actually drift off once you’ve hit the
Try Dr. Andrew Weil’s “4-7-8” breathing trick to help you fall asleep in less than 1 minute:
You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.
When you feel stressed or anxious, adrenaline courses through your veins, your heart beats at a rapid rate, and your breathing becomes quick and shallow…. [The] effect of the breathing technique feels almost like a sedative drug, because in order to hold your breath for seven seconds and then to exhale for eight—when your breath is so shallow and short—your body is forced to slow your heart rate. It has no choice. Holding your breath, and then slowly, deliberately exhaling for eight seconds, causes a chain reaction. It feels like going from a mad-dash sprint to a finish line to a slow, leisurely, calming stroll through the park.
When you’re stressed out or anxious, like when you’re unable to fall asleep, you’re probably under-breathing. By extending your inhale you force your lungs to take in more oxygen, then by holding the breath you allow that air to flow through your bloodstream.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise slows your heart rate, bringing in more oxygen to your body, which in turn calms your heart and your central nervous system, and thereby your mind.