Suffer from a lot of stress? If you’re a constant worry, chances are you’ve lost at least one night of sleep this month to whatever’s bugging you at work, school, or at home.
It’s especially bad for millennials: an American Psychological Association study titled Stress in America reports more than 50 percent of Generation Y lost that one night of sleep over the course of a month. That’s a lot higher compared to only 37 percent of Baby Boomers and 25 percent of Matures.
Why does stress affect sleep in the first place? Stress is the body’s response to potentially harmful situations, regardless if it’s real or imagined. Typical reactions include quickened breathing, tightened muscles, spiked blood pressure, and an increased heart rate. Stressed people have trouble catching Z’s because these symptoms weigh heavily at night.
There’re simple ways to combat stress that could help a stressed out person relax and get some much needed rest.
Dr. Andrew Weil, best selling author and Harvard grad, strongly believes holistic breathing practices are the best way to relieve stress and anxiety:
“Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. By simply focusing your attention on your breathing, and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation.”
The effects of stress include quick and shallow breaths, leading to stressed and anxious people under-breathing, or sometimes even subconsciously holding their breath.
Mindful breathing practices are lost in the Western world. But they can be useful, particularly if you want some sleep.
So how do you fall asleep in under a minute? Follow these steps courtesy of motto.com – how to do the ‘4-7-8’ Breathing Exercise:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the tissue ridge right above your upper front teeth. Keep it there for the remainder of the exercise.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound as you do so.
- Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose while mentally counting to four.
- Hold your breath for a mental count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth for a mental count of eight. Make the same whoosh sound from Step Two.
- This concludes the first cycle. Repeat the same process three more times for a total of four renditions.
Breaking it down in layman’s terms: breath in for four, hold for seven, and breathe out for eight. The four-count gives chronic under-breathers a chance to get some much-needed oxygen; the seven gives the oxygen time to get into the bloodstream; and the eight slows the heart rate, and releases a good amount of carbon dioxide from the lungs.
So there you have it. If you’re a Millennial (even if you’re not) that’s struggling to sleep, give the 4-7-8 breathing exercise a go.