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A patient just told me something profound.
I had recommended 4-7-8 breathing to him a few months ago. I was not even sure he heard me, or if he had any intention of actually doing the technique.
Turns out he had.
And he next brought it up, he surprised me.
First, a review…
What is the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?
Dr. Andrew Weil (https://www.drweil.com/) is an integrative medicine physician and author who is known for his advocacy of natural and holistic approaches to health and well-being.
One of his most popular breathing techniques is the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which is a simple yet effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and promote overall relaxation.
The 4-7-8 breathing involves inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven, and exhaling for a count of eight.
This breathing pattern is thought to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” response.
How to Practice the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound for a count of eight.
- Repeat steps 4-6 for three more cycles.
You can practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique at any time of day, but it is especially helpful to practice when you are feeling stressed or anxious.
Which brings us back to my patient. He told me that after practicing this for a few months, he now can just do one cycle.
He notices that his body and mind has been conditioned so that he can easily fall into a relaxive state in about 19 seconds.
Just like anything else, a practice can become easier and more effective over time.
I was turned on to mouth taping about three months ago by my brother, and separately by a mentor, both of whom had been taping their mouth shut for years while sleeping.
My brother told me about James Nestor’s book “Breath.”
I am a pretty avid reader, but I still haven’t read the actual book.
However, I have listened to podcasts where Nestor has been interviewed.
The index card summary is: we are supposed to breath through our nose, not our mouth. And, many modern day health problems can be attributed to mouth breathing.
Turns out Eleven in “Stranger Things” was right.
We should breath as much as possible through our noses – like all animals on earth do.
This includes while we sleep.
Hence, mouth taping.
I use blue painter’s tape, and put a postage-sized piece on the front of my mouth right before going to bed.
It’s a game-changer.
Here’s what I’ve noticed the past few months:
1. I sleep more deeply through the night.
2. I dream more and recall dreams better.
3. I, paradoxically, experience less congestion in the morning, even though I am breathing through my nose.
4. I wake up way more rested.
Consistently the best sleep I’ve had in three years.
Do you have something that makes a huge difference for you regarding sleep?
If so, share it with me. Would love to hear what it is.