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16th Apr 2024

Trouble getting to sleep? Try this five-minute trick

Anna Martin

Can’t seem to sleep at bedtime? You’re not alone

More and more of us are struggling to fall asleep when we go to bed, resulting not only in a restless night but also in tiredness and exhaustion the next day.

If you’re nodding your head as you read this, you need to try the 4-7-8 technique, which experts are calling a “natural tranquilliser for the nervous system”.

Adopted from the yogic practice of pranayama, meaning “regulation of breath,” American celebrity doctor and guru of alternative medicine, Dr Andrew Weil, has since developed the 4-7-8 technique as a way to lull the body into a state of deep relaxation and eventually sleep.

According to Weil himself, the method is meant to diminish stress and bring balance to the body, all the while giving your organs and tissues a much-needed oxygen boost.

sleep hack
Credit: Getty

Here is how Weil himself describes the method:

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.

Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise.

Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there throughout the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
  • That’s one breath.

Repeat a cycle of breaths three more times, totalling four breaths.

According to Dr. Weil, the most important part of this practice is holding your breath, because it’ll allow the oxygen to really circulate throughout your body, and that’s what relaxes you into a good night’s sleep.



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