Breathe Your Way into a Good Night’s Sleep
Simple Breathwork Practice Before Bed Could Be The Key
You lay in bed, hand on your phone, mindlessly scrolling your host of social media accounts. Once that has droned on long enough you switch to your latest Netflix binge, then back and forth you go feeling numb but unable to sleep. Finally, you doze off at the same time your alarm starts to buzz.
Where did the night go?
Not rested, and already feeling behind you roll out of bed and begin your morning routine.
You know the drill, in no time you’ll be face to face with little miss 22-year-old perky pants. Eager to get this day going with a smile on her face as she tells everyone about the beautiful eagle she saw on her early morning run.
Ugh. There is not enough coffee in the world for this. Your dislike for this Pollyanna is only amplified by the bags under your own eyes.
But you begin to wonder…
What’s she doing differently? How can I wake up with a skip in my step like that?
All-day long at work your only thought is of that sweet moment your head hits your pillow and you can finally get that well-deserved sleep you’re dreaming of.
From the moment you wake up life is go go go!
You begin to review
- You hit the alarm
- Start the coffee
- Take a shower
- Throw something in your mouth as you pour yourself a cup of coffee
- Fly out the door behind schedule
- Sit in traffic
- Get to work
- Put out fires all-day
- Clock out, and head to the gym (maybe)
- Get home
- Start dinner
- Zone out with some screen time
- And finally, you start to doze off.
The only problem is now that you’re here, your brain didn’t get the memo that it’s time for sleep.
Tired all day and now that you have time to rest your brain is on super overdrive.
Oh, you cruel cruel world, why is this happening?!
Early in life, you were told by adults, educators, and family members that what your life looks like on the outside will determine your value.
This is why we base so much importance on a constant need to achieve. Creating a busy society where it’s hard to slow down and escape all the pressures put on us from the outside world.
Our inner peace is something we are told we must find on our own time. Yet when we finally have time, we’re so caught up on all the things we must accomplish that we end up spinning our wheels.
We are a sleep-deprived society. One in three American’s don’t get enough sleep according to the CDC. Sleep isn’t something that is valued, even though we know the human body needs an average of six to eight hours of sleep per night. Our lack of sleep leaves us moodier and traps us into believing that the outside world holds more value than what’s going on inside of us.
I’m here to tell you that this is bullshit.
This is a lie put upon you to trick you into doing more. A lie that wants you to believe that a constant state of achievement is your goal. Leaving things like rest on the side-lines of your life. This has your body wondering when it will ever get the well-deserved attention it needs.
The lie is designed to make it look like you’re winning from the outside, while on the inside you feel like shit.
What if I told you that taking 5 minutes to consciously breathe before bed could help develop sleep patterns that will drastically improve the quality of your life?
Waking up with a well-rested body that allows you to focus on your day and the tasks at hand. Breathwork is the tool to let it all go, so you can continue the new cycle of rest.
Your Sleeping Problem
What is it that keeps you up at night?
- Recounting the events of your day?
- Remembering the one thing you left undone?
- Mindless screen time that has you zoned but awake?
- Made up scenarios of what you should have said in a confrontation?
- Made up scenarios of fights or imaginary problems you’ve created in your head?
How Breathing Helps You Sleep
Slow conscious breathing is a lot like sleeping. It helps put your body into a relaxed state. If your mind is buzzing with burdens of the day it can feel impossible to turn off the noise. And it’s hard to fall asleep when your body is tense from the anxious thoughts in your head.
If you suffer from insomnia then you know the more anxious you become the harder it is to fall asleep.
When you’re asleep, your breath is slowed and comes naturally without you having to focus or think about it. By practicing conscious slow breathing before bed you can emulate this process and create a doorway into a more relaxed state — easing the mind and helping you transition into sleep.
Breathwork is the Solution
Like all practices, it only works if you do them. That is why you’ll notice I say simple techniques, not easy.
In less than five minutes you can shift your brain into a more relaxed state. This is easy for the body to do, but it is not easy to commit to a new nighttime routine. If sleeping better is your goal, then you must treat it as such and commit to the work.
The work takes less than five minutes, but it must be done consistently night after night.
Before you begin, you first must commit that you will not turn on Netflix or pick up your phone to scroll social media, or pick up a book to read after you do this technique. I’m not telling you to not do those things, I’m simply saying get them out of the way so you can clear your mind and set it up for a healthy and fulfilled night of sleep.
Simple Breath Technique for a Better Nights Sleep
- Start by setting up your space. This means removing any distractions.
- Remove electronics from the room
- Use the restroom
- Drink some water
- Turn off the lights
- Once situated make yourself comfortable in bed and close your eyes.
- Begin to turn your attention to your breathing.
- Thoughts will come and that’s okay, let them be there. Try to not hold on to any of the stories that pass through your head and keep directing your attention back to your breath.
- You want to be conscious that you are breathing in and out through your nose only. If you are congested you can modify by breathing through your mouth, but whenever possible you want to focus on nasal breathing.
- Bring your attention to the tip of your nose.
- Notice the cool air moving into your nostrils on the inhale, and the warmer air leaving the nostrils on the exhale.
- Notice any sensations as the air moves in and out.
- After about 10 breaths, move your attention further into your nose and then follow it as it moves through your nasal passage and down into your throat.
- Concentrate on the movement happening in the back of your throat and notice the sensations. How does the temperature feel there?
- Breathe in this fashion for 10 more breath cycles.
- Next, follow the breath all the way down into your lungs and back out again.
- Notice the natural pause your breath takes as it moves from an inhale to an exhale.
- Notice the sensation of air pouring into your lungs as they expand and the sensation of your lungs sinking inward on the exhale.
- Finally follow your breath into your diaphragm.
- Notice your stomach push out as the air comes in.
- Notice the control you bring to your breath by pushing your navel inwards on the exhale.
- Now that you are breathing slowly and consciously do about 10 rounds.
- The breath should feel like a wave moving in through your nasal passage, down your throat, filling your lungs, and ending with a full belly.
- Then follow that same pattern back out as the belly contracts, the lungs and rib cage sink, the back of your throat closes, and warm air flows out of your nose.
Ancient Techniques, Practical Application
This is a very basic breathing technique that humans have been using for centuries to help calm the mind. There are hundreds of breathing techniques designed around helping you to sleep. If this one doesn’t do it for you don’t give up. You have plenty of options, and like all things, it’s about finding the right one for you.
The simplicity of this one is what makes it so great.
At first, it might feel like a battleground for your mind. This will pass with practice. You have let your mind control your thoughts for so long that of course it’s going to fight for its survival. But you know where that path leads and it’s gotten you nowhere. Just continue to return to the breath over and over again. Before you know it you will fully emerge in your breath and your only thoughts will be the sensations you feel.
Breathwork helps turn our attention towards the sensations of the body.
This helps us identify where we are holding tension and helps us release stress from our bodies. This, in turn, helps aid in a good night’s sleep.
Simple isn’t always easy, but after you start having consistent nights of sound sleeping you will be amazed.
No more running on empty to showcase how much you are achieving. You will begin to achieve more naturally because you are rested and in balance with your breath.