The 4-7-8 breathing technique was pioneered by Arizona-based Dr. Andrew Weil who says on his YouTube channel: “It is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.”
To do the 4-7-8 breathing technique, you first need to exhale completely through your mouth while making a ‘whoosh’ sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Now hold your breath for a count of seven.
After this time has elapsed, exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight-seconds in one large breath.
Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.
‘Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth.
‘The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time,’ Dr. Weil says.
‘Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation.
‘The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4-7-8 is important.’
The technique is based on pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that means ‘regulation of breath.’
The Harvard-trained doctor claims that 4-7-8 is such a powerful technique because it allows oxygen to better fill the lungs.
This extra oxygen can have a relaxing effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.
During times of stress, the nervous system becomes overstimulated leading to an imbalance that can cause a lack of sleep.
As well as relaxing the parasympathetic nervous system, Dr. Weil says 4-7-8 helps you feel connected to your body and distracts you from everyday thoughts that can disrupt sleep.
He says it can also help anxiety.
On a Youtube video explaining the technique, a commenter wrote: ‘I tried it and immediately felt better. I take meds for OCD and anxiety…I was feeling anxious when I stumbled onto this. One set of four and I feel way less anxious.’
Given to try and let us know if it works for you!