Do you struggle with pressure and stress that keeps you up at night? Is it hard to relax? Does your mind constantly go over your endless to-do list or spin in a cycle of worry about the future? Is something that happened yesterday creeping in to sabotage the present moment?
Over thinking, worries, and stress can trigger anxiety and cause you to miss out on those vital, mood stabilizing hours of sleep! If you are sleep deprived because your mind is overly active, using breathing exercises can help you calm your body, quiet your thoughts, and help you get to sleep. Here are three, great techniques you can practice in bed to help you gently drift away to dreamland.
1. Equal Breathing – Sama Vritti
Sama Vritti helps to calm the nervous system and reduces stress hormones in your body. Because it’s an easy technique to practice and helps focus your thoughts, it also makes a great addition to your meditation practice.
- Place yourself in a comfortable, reclining position…when you’re finished you can head straight to sleep.
- Close your eyes and take a series of five or more breaths to get started. Concentrate on controlled and full breaths.
- Begin to regulate your breathing. Count slowly to four on inhalations, pause a moment when your lungs are full, and then exhale for another four count with another moment of pause when your lungs have emptied.
- Experiment with your breath counts. You may need to lengthen your breaths past four counts to fully fill and empty your lungs. Just remember to keep the same counts on both the inhale and exhale.
- Once you’ve found your sweet spot, continue to breathe for 5 to 10 minutes or until you fall asleep.
2. Abdominal Breathing Technique
The abdominal breathing technique is fantastic for dealing with stressful situations. It can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure while helping to clear your mind and get you ready for sleep.
- Lie down on your back and begin to relax your body. Your knees should be slightly bent with your feet flat on your mattress.
- Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. The goal is to be able to track your breathing with your hands.
- Take deep breaths of air through your nose and work to fill your diaphragm (your belly hand should feel the movement while your chest hand should remain still).
- After you’ve established a good breathing rhythm, continue for at least 10 minutes.
3. Alternate Nostril Breathing – Nadi Shodhana
An amazing breathing technique that calms the mind, clears your thoughts, and releases tension is alternate nostril breathing. Also known as Nadi Shodhana, this breathing technique can help relax your mind in just a few minutes. “Nadi” refers to your body’s energy channels, and “shodhan” refers to a process of cleaning or purification. In other words, it’s intended to remove blocked energy channels in your body which also helps to clear your mind.
- Place yourself in a comfortable position against your headboard with your spine erect and your shoulders relaxed.
- Hold your right thumb over the right nostril and inhale as deeply as you can through only the left nostril.
- When your lungs are full, close off your left nostril with your right ring finger while exhaling.
- Continue to be mindful of your breathing while alternating nostrils as you breathe in and out. Once you’ve found a good rhythm, keep going for as long as it takes to clear your mind.
Breathing exercises are great to calm your autonomic nervous systems and naturally reduce stress hormones in your body! How did these exercises work for you? Are there any others that you recommend?