It is a scientifical fact that good, sound, and sufficient sleep are essential to promote the well-being and healing of our bodies, minds, and souls.
Sleeping well, without interruptions, can improve your mood and grow your concentration, problem-solving ability, and creativity.
In today’s hectic life a crescent number of people find it difficult to sleep well and/or to easily fall asleep.
Sleeping badly has many negative effects on us like as: reduction of our attention span and creativity, mood alteration and instability, memory issues, and weight gain.
Those more affected by insomnia are women and older adults.
Breathing and mindfulness could help you fall asleep more effectively and, even more important, stay asleep all night long.
Of course, there are some habits we could get and some others we should get rid of to help this process, as well as some physical exercises that can help us (mainly those light activities from Qi Gong, Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan), yet today we will start with breathing and mindfulness.
Breathing slowly is essential to falling asleep.
The key element of this exercise is becoming aware of your breathing, and consciously slowing down its rhythm. Your goal here is to exhale twice as long as your inhale and keep this pace for a while until your mind gets to a still point and you can fall asleep easily.
How to do it
As you will see, the exercise is easy, yet extremely effective you manage to follow its three steps. You can do them just when you decide it’s time to go to sleep. You can decide to practice directly on your bed, ready to fall asleep during the exercise, or on your sofa, carpet, or yoga mat so that you can go under the blankets as soon you finish the three steps.
Before starting, put away your electronic devices, wash your hands and face with warm water, and empty your bowel and bladder, if you feel the need.
Leave your daily stress and thoughts. Wear loose garments or your pajama, and sit comfortably on your sofa or lie down on your bed, carpet, or yoga mat. Start breathing, inhaling from your nose and exhaling from your mouth. Perform a quick body scan so as to identify and relax all the tension in your body. Then, calm down your mind by observing your thoughts, without remaining bound to them.
Become aware of your breath. Continue breathing, and bring your attention to how you do it, to the feelings that you notice, to the physical feedback you get. Notice the rhythmic and subtle lifting and lowering of your belly while you breathe.
Exhale twice as long as you inhale. Now, once you become aware of your breathing, let’s start controlling it. Breathe freely from your nose, both when inhaling and exhaling. Start breathing so that your exhaling is twice as long as your inhaling. Use the following pattern:
- Exhale fully
- Breathe in slowly while counting to two.
- Hold your breath while counting to three.
- Breathe out slowly while counting to four.
- Continue to breathe this way until when you do not need any longer to count, as your breath has naturally taken the rhythm. Allow your whole being, body, mind, and soul to live the full experience of breathing, here and now.
- After a while, let go of your awareness and simply breathe.
At the end of the exercise, express your gratitude for the experience. Slowly get up and go right into bed if you were not in it.