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  • Writer's pictureChristopher

The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique: A Quick Strategy for Faster Sleep

Getting to sleep quickly can be easier said than done. We've previously discussed the importance of sleep hygiene practices, but distractions or stressors can still making falling asleep difficult. One simple technique that you can try includes the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, this method is based on an ancient yogic technique called pranayama and is designed to calm the nervous system, improve mental clarity, and promote faster sleep.

4-7-8 Breathing Technique Steps

  1. Position Yourself: Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, exhaling completely through your mouth.

  2. Seal Your Lips: Close your mouth and start inhaling quietly through your nose for a count of 4.

  3. Hold the Breath: Hold your breath and silently count to 7.

  4. Exhale Completely: Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a 'whoosh' sound as you breathe out, counting to 8.

  5. Repeat: This completes one breath cycle. Repeat this cycle for a total of four breaths.

Why It Works

  • Slows Heart Rate: Deep, controlled breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down your heart rate, promoting relaxation.

  • Focuses the Mind: Going through the counting sequence requires focus and attention, diverting your mind away from stressors and thoughts that might otherwise keep you awake.

  • Oxygenates the Body: Deep inhalation fills your lungs with oxygen, which is then more efficiently spread throughout your body, aiding in relaxation and mental clarity.

Additional Tips

  • Make it a Routine: For optimal results, incorporate the 4-7-8 technique into your nightly bedtime routine.

  • Stay Consistent: Consistency is key. It may take a few days to get used to the technique and experience its sleep-inducing benefits.

  • Consult a Professional: While this technique is generally safe for most people, consult with your healthcare provider if you have any respiratory or cardiovascular issues before trying new breathing exercises.

Final Thoughts

The 4-7-8 technique does not require any complicated quipment, and can be a quick tool you can use to facilitate quicker sleep. Give it a try tonight and discover how a few simple breaths can lead you to a world of restful slumber.

Stay curious, and stay rested!


Weil, A. (2019). Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing (Audiobook). Sounds True.

Jerath, R., Edry, J. W., Barnes, V. A., & Jerath, V. (2006). Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Medical hypotheses, 67(3), 566-571.

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