When sleep is elusive, one of the best antidotes is intentional breathing.
The American Sleep Association reports that 30% of Americans have short-term sleep issues. And with good reason! Longer work days, homework, economic and emotional stress make easily falling asleep a challenge.
If you want to sleep, it’s a good idea to have a few breathing techniques in your wellness wheelhouse.
What are breathing techniques?
We tend to take breathing for granted. It’s on autopilot. Like our heartbeat, breathing is miraculously managed by the autonomic nervous system. Breathing affects the entire body, including the brain. It’s a challenge to switch off the review of the day’s anxieties. Even elementary school gaffes can haunt us decades later when sleep is elusive. Breathing techniques are mindfulness and gentle control of our breath that help us focus and calm down so we can sleep.
Most are familiar with controlled breathing through the popularity of yoga. This New York Times article opens with an active, DIY example of controlled breathing. Try it! Health journalist, Leslie Alderman, also notes why breathing can help with sleep:
“Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calm as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol.”
Breathing for better sleep is one of those issues where science, practice, and even spirituality merge. For the ultimate summary, with all the information you need in one place, Kelli Gardner at Groom and Style has pulled it all together. The science and the techniques. There’s even an “am I doing it wrong?” section.
Intentional breathing practices are one way to release the day so you can sleep. You don’t have to be a Zen master or child psychologist to connect with your children plus help them get to sleep. The Put the Day to Bed visualization guides you. Comes with a recording and a printable booklet. And it’s free. Download it now.