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Breathing Exercises for Insomnia

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a bad day or can’t wind down or if restlessness is in the body or the mind. When you can’t sleep, you need help, and you need it fast.

The good news is that breathing in specific ways can help you get to sleep, stay asleep, and experience more profound levels of sleep. Just like Goldilocks, you will find the breathing exercise that’s just right!

Let’s dive into some breathing exercises for sleep recommended by former insomniacs.

Stress: The #1 Cause of Insomnia

Though many things can contribute to not being able to fall asleep and stay asleep, stress is the number one factor for most people. Unfortunately, insomnia can become an issue when we do not attend to reducing our stress. And what happens if we continue the cycle of stress and insomnia?

According to WebMD, “Lack of sleep can make you moody, cranky, anxious, and depressed. It could also be harder to think straight or remember things…Insomnia is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.”

In short, we end up feeling even more stressed without proper deep sleep! What can help with stress reduction? Breathing! What can help with sleep issues? Breathing!

Deep Breathing Exercises

Victory Breath

This breathing technique also goes by the names ocean breath (because of its sound) and ujjayi breath (a Sanskrit word that means victory). But how is breathing a victory? It conquers unwanted thoughts. Can I get a hip, hip hooray? 

Victory breath is also very relaxing, especially if you enjoy the sounds of the ocean—no need for a white noise machine when you can make your own ocean whooshing sound.

Check out this video for an in-depth explanation and how to do this easy breath control to help you drift off to sleep.

Belly Breathing

Also called abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing has many benefits. Everything from lower anxiety to improved core muscle stability. Here are simple instructions you can try for yourself.

  1. You can do this technique lying down in bed or on any flat surface. You can also practice diaphragmatic breathing by sitting up with a straight, relaxed spine.
  2. Put one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly.
  3. Take a long, full, deep breath in through your nose and fill up your lungs.
  4. As the lungs get filled, your abdominal muscles and sides of the waist expand, and your hand gently rises. Your chest remains relatively still.
    Exhale slowly. The hand resting on your belly will gently return to its original position.
  5. Repeat these steps 10–15 times for the best results.

Bonus tip Slowly exhale through pursed lips to help elongate the breath. The longer the exhalation, the more it can help you relax.

Humming Bee Breath

This breathing technique also has a Sanskrit name, bhramari (brah-mah-ree)  pranayama (breathing exercise). The exhalation of this breathing method is done with the mouth closed and resembles the sound of a humming bee. Because humming bee breath helps you to relax, it is perfect to practice right before bedtime.

Watch this short video to learn how to practice bhramari pranayama and have better sleep starting tonight.

SKY Breath Meditation

With so many relaxation techniques to reduce stress, how do you find the best? One approach combines breath and meditation that is superior to anything else available—SKY Breath Meditation.

I say this because I have been a SKY practitioner for 27 years. Though I might enjoy certain other breathing techniques from time to time, I do my SKY practice daily for a healthier mind and body!

In a recent study, practitioners of SKY spent triple the amount of time in deeper stages (3 & 4) of sleep compared with an age-matched control group.

Other research has shown that SKY practitioners enjoy not only deeper sleep but also experience

  • Improved immunity
  • Increased contentment
  • Healthier blood pressure
  • Reduced addictive behaviors
  • Significant reduction in stress hormones
  • Significant decrease in depression
  • Significant decrease in anxiety
  • Improved relationships
  • Increased joy!

Now, take a deep breath—you’re on your way to a more restful sleep. Sweet dreams!

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