Can't sleep? 4-7-8 breathing will have you drifting off in minutes

Deep breathe your way to a restful night's sleep with the 4-7-8 breathing technique

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(Image credit: Getty Images / Adam Kuylenstierna / EyeEm)

Sleep is a crucial part of wellness: the benefits of sleep are endless and it can have a huge impact on our physical and mental health. Though we know how many hours of sleep we need, and all the best sleeping positions, it’s not also so simple to just fall asleep—even when you’re tired.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, however, promises to send you off into a restful night's sleep, just by breathing in and out. So treat yourself to one of the best sleep masks, and prepare yourself to get some much-needed shut-eye.

Breathing exercises are nothing new, we see them practiced in both yoga and meditation, as concentrating on inhaling and exhaling is known to relax the body and calm the mind.

Dr. Andrew Weil, an integrated medicine specialist at the University of Arizona, has utilized the power of breathing, and created a simple method to get yourself to sleep, the 4-7-8 technique.

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(Image credit: Getty Images / Tara Moore)


In an article for Medical News Today, Dr. Andrew recommends you use the 4-7-8 breathing method at least two times a day to see the benefits sooner. 

He believes this form of deep breathing can reduce anxiety, relieve hypertension, reduce anger responses and most importantly help you to sleep. 

Andrew says: “It’s a great way to help you fall asleep, if you wake up in the middle of the night for any reason, get back into bed and do the exercise, and you’ll fall asleep easily.” 

How to practise the 4-7-8 breathing technique

  1. Firstly sit comfortably, or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Press your tongue up against the skin behind your front teeth
  3. Breath out and expel all the air in your lungs
  4. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds
  5. Hold your breath for 7 seconds
  6. And then breathe out loudly and hard through your mouth for 8 seconds
  7. Repeat four times

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Andrew explains to do four cycles for the first month until it feels comfortable and then you can increase if you want to—but never more than eight cycles.

“It’s desirable to slow the whole exercise down as you practice, what limits you is how comfortably you can hold your breath. But as you practice, you’ll get better and better at it.”

You can feel a little lightweight or a bit dizzy after doing this, so make sure you are comfortable, and either lying or sitting down, and don’t push yourself.

Naomi Jamieson
Naomi Jamieson

Naomi is a Trainee News Writer with the Lifestyle team and has worked with the team for seven months. She has a background in design, having studied Illustration at Plymouth University but has taken a leap into the world of journalism after always having a passion for writing. She currently writes pieces on fashion, wellbeing, and entertainment for GoodTo and My Imperfect Life and is training for an NCTJ Qualification. Before working for Future Publishing’s News Writing Team, she worked in the Ad Production Team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into the print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing, and probably online shopping.