Breathing technique may offer relief for insomniacs

Developed by a University of Arizona faculty member, the method is grounded in yogic traditions and backed by science

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A breathing technique, developed by University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Centre Director Dr Andrew Weil, claims to quieten the brains, and shutter the eyelids to offer respite to the sleep deprived.

According to Vogue magazine, the breathing technique is called the 4-7-8 method, which triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes the body and switches off the sympathetic nervous system that is responsible for our adrenaline related flight or fright responses. As per the technique, the person breathes in through the nose for four seconds and holds the breath for seven. This is followed by a deep exhale for eight seconds, with the air pushed out through pursed lips with a ‘whoosh’ sound. The technique should be repeated up to four times every day for effective results.

Vogue noted that the breathing technique was grounded in science but was derived from ancient yoga traditions that focus on a person’s mind to body connection through conscious breathing. Pranayama or breath regulation techniques also help reduce general anxiety, giving the practitioner more control over their stressful day during the pandemic. Weil’s breathing strategy closely resembles the ujjayi breath, which also involves deep inhalation through the nose and exhalation from deep within the throat through pursed lips.