You gave warm bath, a hot, milky drink and even counting sheep, a try but you’re still lying wide awake. And you haven’t got the faintest idea why sleep is eluding you! Now a scientist insists he has a way of getting insomniacs to slip into a slumber in just 60 seconds – and that too without a prescription drug or strange lighting.
Called the 4-7-8 breathing technique, it’s sort of a ‘natural tranquiliser for the nervous system’ that effectively reduces tension in the body. It was invented by Arizona-based Dr Andrew Weill who says on his YouTube channel: ‘It is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.’
This is the way of doing 4-7-8 breathing technique: 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 stop breathing for 7 seconds. Then exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight second in one large breath.
Now inhale once more and replicate 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.’
It’s a technique born out of pranayama, an ancient Indian practice whose literal meaning is ‘regulation of breath.’ According to the Harvard-trained doctor it’s a powerful technique for the reason that it allows oxygen to better fill the lungs.
The extra oxygen that gets pumped in produces a relaxing effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to a state of calmness. When we’re in stress our nervous system becomes over stimulated and the resultant imbalance, brings on a lack of sleep.
Apart from relaxing the parasympathetic nervous system, Dr Weil says 4-7-8 helps you feel connected to your body and keeps distractive thoughts at bay, which can cause sleep disruption. Furthermore, it also helps manage anxiety.
In the comment section of the Youtube video explaining the technique, a person 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.’
Dr Weil claims by repeating the technique twice a day, for six to eight weeks you’ll be able to fall asleep in just 60 seconds.
THE WORLD’S SLEEPING HABITS
Researchers analyzed the statistics logged in the Sleep Cycle app by various users – and found that the earliest wake-up time worldwide is on a Monday in South Africa.
MONDAY: On Mondays people all over the world tend to wake up early & South Africa rises first at 6:09 am.
TUESDAY: Americans wake up early at 7am and are therefore in the worst mood all week.
Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, South Africa and Brazil, also tend to wake up grumpy on Tuesdays.
WEDNESDAY: Over half of the countries surveyed – including the US – have their best sleep on Wednesdays, with China logging the highest sleep quality in the world that night.
THURSDAY: On Thursday middle east users tend to sleep longer than any other day, with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE reporting the best mood on Thursdays.
FRIDAY: Americans sleep very late on Fridays, and don’t wake up until 8:24am. They also report the best wake-up mood.
Natives of Costa Rica, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden also wake up the happiest on Friday.
Nonetheless, most of the world (71 per cent), wake up in the best mood on Saturdays.
SATURDAY: Around 90% of countries surveyed sleep longer and wake up late on Saturday compared to any other day of the week.
SUNDAY: Most of the world (66% of countries) record the shortest sleep time on Sundays. South Korea tops the list where users only sleep 5 hours and 53 minutes on Sunday nights.