Can’t Fall Asleep? Try This!

Can’t Fall Asleep? Try This!

Some things in life are necessary, like food, water, and shelter. But, to be reasonably content human beings, we need a few more things. Human contact is good, alone time is great, but at the top of the list? Decent sleep. Good sleep is absolutely mandatory.

But, falling asleep is one of those Chinese finger-trap tasks that we’ve never been able to master. We’d lie awake thinking about how not asleep we were, look at the clock, turn over, and repeat. The longer we stayed awake worrying about it, the harder it became to actually fall asleep. Until we discovered a new method.

Keep in mind, we’re taking liberties with the word “method.” This trick is even simpler than that. But, it’s still the most effective, foolproof, works-every-time tip that absolutely changed our lives. Drumroll please: It’s breathing.

Breath regulation, while utterly simple, has an impact on every system in your body. By breathing in subtly different ways, you can effect blood pressure, heart rate, emotional stability, and even hormones. Anyone who’s ever had a panic attack knows that the most effective way to quell that horrible moment of mental and physical distress is with slow, regulated breathing.

But, if you need to fall asleep, here’s how to do it:

1. Lie down in your preferred sleep position. You can also start on your back and roll into it when you start to drop off.

2. Breathe in through your nose on a count of three seconds.

3. Breathe out through your nose on a count of six seconds.

4. Repeat until you fall asleep.

This works for two reasons. First, you will need to consciously pay attention to counting your breath in order for it to work — it’s like a more effective version of counting sheep. Second, and most important, your body and brain will instantly feel the effect that comes with this shorter-inhale, longer-exhale technique. The physiological impact is immediate as your autonomic nervous system shifts gears, telling muscles to relax, heart rate to slow down, and your brain to downshift from high-alert mode.

If you find that the three-to-six ratio is uncomfortable, feel free to change it. The most important thing is to keep your exhales longer than your inhales. Both the medical community and meditation practitioners can attest to the proven power of this breathing technique (also known as “7-11 breathing”).

Insomniacs, trust us. If you commit to this breathing method for just a few minutes, you will fall asleep. We can’t calculate the exact duration required for it to kick in, but we have never stayed awake longer than five minutes when we employed it. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.

Sweet dreams!

Discussion7 Comments

  • Lori Weaks Mar 19, 2014 

    thanks… i will give this a try… i dont always have issues falling asleep, but when i do… it really is frustrating … hopefully this will help.


  • Jill Pearlberg Mar 19, 2014 

    I will try this-I have trouble falling asleep every night.

  • Laurie Mar 19, 2014 

    I will certainly try it. Sounds good and better than a pill!

  • Lynne Mar 20, 2014 

    Another method is to start to tighten one muscle group at a time for a second and then release it. Start anywhere. Start with face and then move on down the bottom. The mind gets tired of work and therefore drops off to sleep.

  • Lynne Mar 20, 2014 

    Meant to say; Move on down the body- (not bottom)

  • Lori Weaks Mar 25, 2014 

    ok…I tried it and it didnt work for me, I have sleep apena and use a cpap machine… i just felt like I was fighting the machine with every breath… I think I might try that muscle thing… thanks for the idea Lynne

  • Cindi N Oct 22, 2014 

    Great information!