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How to Fall Asleep Right Away

This Breathing Trick Can Help You Fall Asleep Instantly — Try It Tonight

Shot of a young woman sleeping with a mask on in bed

Image Source: Getty / LaylaBird

Is your anxiety interfering with your ability to fall asleep night after night? Relying on over-the-counter meds to reach the land of nod? Just not getting the sleep your body and brain need? If this sounds all too familiar, we have a breathing trick to help you fall asleep quickly — no prescriptions required.

The exercise is called the 4-7-8 technique, and Andrew Weil, MD, founder and director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, calls it a "natural tranquilizer for the nervous system." Study after study has linked meditation to lowered stress levels, and this easy-to-follow exercise will help you reap some of the de-stressing benefits that come along with consistent meditation practice.

Beyond bedtime, Dr. Weil recommends performing this exercise whenever dealing with a stressful situation. The next time you can't curb sugar cravings, get into a fight with your partner, or can't hit the hay because you're overwhelmed, try it out for yourself. You'll start feeling more relaxed immediately.

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The 4-7-8 Method

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  6. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat three more times for a total of four cycles.

For more explanation, plus a tutorial, check out this video:

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