Breathing for Better Sleep
A 20-minute breathwork flow to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Stress & Sleep
Your nervous system is mind-blowingly intricate. At every moment, your Automatic Nervous System (ANS) is processing information and sending messages to your body with staggering speed and accuracy, controlling vital functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and breathing.
Under the ANS umbrella, there are two fundamental branches. The Sympathetic branch stimulates our 'fight or flight' response, energy generation, and arousal. At the same time, our Parasympathetic system regulates our 'rest and relax' response, signaling that we're safe and subsequently promoting recovery and relaxation.
These two branches must work in harmony to remain in balance, but it's never been more challenging.
Modern life has generated stressors the human brain wasn't designed to deal with. Constant access to information, Political instability, and financial worries can over-activate the Sympathetic response, with repeated and prolonged instances triggering weakened immune systems, anxiety, depression, and sleep dysfunction.
That's where controlled breathing comes in and restores equilibrium. It's the single exception to the primarily involuntary processes of the Autonomic Nervous System. When we take control of our breathing, we can control how we feel, reducing stress, alleviating anxiety, and helping us manage our sleep.
This breathwork flow will stimulate the Parasympathetic side of the central nervous system, turning on the rest-and-relax response and lowering blood pressure, blood glucose, and heart rate. In turn, Cortisol & adrenaline levels will drop, leaving you calm, quiet, and ready for a restorative night's sleep.
By slowing down our breathing to 6 breaths per minute and focusing on the area of the heart, we create a state in which the heart, mind, and emotions are synchronized and balanced. This is known as ‘heart coherence.’
Coherence breathing balances the activity of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the vagus nerve, alleviating anxiety and depression -both notorious for sleep disruption.
Breathe for 5 Minutes
INHALE through the nose for 5 sec.
EXHALE through the nose/or mouth for 5 sec.
Rest your awareness on the center of your chest and breathe slowly and steadily into your heart. Ensure you are breathing into your belly and not your chest.
Activate a positive renewing feeling with each breath- you can re-experience a time you felt love or appreciation for a person or breathe in an attitude of love or gratitude.
Slow Breathing Ladder
This simple but state-shifting breathing pattern can switch off stress on demand. When we extend the length, we stimulate the vegas nerve, sending a powerful signal to our ANS that we are calm and safe.
Breathe for x12 Cycles (2.5 Minutes)
INHALE through the nose for 4 sec.
EXHALE through the nose/or mouth for 8 sec.
Breathe for x12 Cycles (3 Minutes)
INHALE through the nose for 5 sec.
EXHALE through the nose/or mouth for 10 sec.
Breathe for x10 Cycles (3 Minutes)
INHALE through the nose for 6 sec.
EXHALE through the nose for 12/or mouth sec.
Breathe slow and steady breaths while resting your awareness on the rise and fall of your belly.
Inhale through the nose, filling the lower diaphragm with air. On the exhale, gently let go through pursed lips or the nose (find which works best for you). During the Slow Breathing progressions, you might feel some slight air hunger. That’s okay- Stay with your breath, and don’t force anything.
Vocal Resonance (Chanting)
Om chanting connects us to the ancient and the divine. The waking state, the dream state, and the dreamless deep sleep state vibrate together, enhancing your awareness and relaxing the entire body and mind.
Using our vocal tone and breathing as a form of resonance has tranquilizing effects. Studies have shown it stimulates the vegas nerve and deactivates the amygdala, the part of the brain which processes our emotions and emotional behavior.
Breathe at your own pace for 10 minutes.
Inhale through your nose, filling your lower diaphragm with air. Then exhale slowly through the mouth with an AUM or humming sound for as long as you feel comfortable.
Guided Breathing for Sleep
Download the RESPIRA app and check out our symphonic breathwork meditations. Our catalog features guided sessions for Coherence breathing, Slow breathing, and Vocal Resonance. You can also use the free Cadence Timer to add the above exercises and breathe to a visual cue with sleep-inducing music.
DISCLAIMER: This is not Medical or Health. Please consult a medical professional before starting any breathwork program, diet plan, or supplement protocol.
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