The 4-7-8 breathing exercise, also known as “relaxing breath,” includes breathing in for 4 seconds, keeping for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
This breathing pattern is intended to relieve anxiety or help individuals in falling asleep. Some followers believe that the technique allows people to fall asleep in under a minute. There is no scientific research to back up this approach, although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that this form of slow, rhythmic breathing is calming and may help people fall asleep. In this post, we will look at how to perform this breathing technique, why it can succeed, and applications that may be useful.
What is 4-7-8 Breathing?
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise will help to manage anxiety and falling asleep. The 4-7-8 breathing technique requires focusing on taking slow, deep breaths in and out. Since it encourages healing, rhythmic breathing is an integral aspect of both meditation and yoga activities. Dr. Andrew Weil teaches the 4-7-8 breathing method, which he claims will help in the following ways:
- reducing anxiety
- helping a person get to sleep
- managing cravings
- controlling or reducing anger responses
Dr. Weil is a celebrity doctor and the founder and director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
How to do it?
Before beginning the breathing pattern, sit comfortably and position the tip of the tongue on the tissue immediately behind the top front teeth. Focus on the following breathing pattern while following the 4-7-8 breathing technique:
- empty the lungs of air
- breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
- hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
- exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
- repeat the cycle up to 4 times
Dr. Weil advises using the method at least twice a day to see results as quickly as possible. He also advises people to stop completing more than four breath cycles in a row until they have had more experience with the technique.
After doing this for the first few times, a person can feel dizzy. As a consequence, it is advised to use this strategy while sitting or lying down to avoid dizziness or crashes.
The number of seconds the pattern lasts is less important than preserving the ratio. If a person is unable to keep their breath for a prolonged period of time, they may attempt a shorter pattern, such as:
- breathe in through the nose for 2 seconds
- hold the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds
- exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds
As long as a person retains the correct ratio, they can find benefits after multiple days or weeks of regularly doing 4-7-8 breathing one or two times a day. Some advocates of 4-7-8 breathing exercise claim that the more and more often a person performs the technique, the more efficient it becomes. There is a paucity of scientific data to back up these arguments about 4-7-8 breathing or other breathing exercises. The evidence consists mostly of personal reports from happy participants.
How it Works And Benefits?
There is some evidence that deep breathing exercises can alleviate anxiety and stress levels. A 2011 review article in Health Science Journal, for example, identifies some of the possible health benefits of deep breathing exercises, especially diaphragmatic breathing. The below are some of the potential advantages of 4-7-8 breathing exercise:
- decreased fatigue
- reduced anxiety
- reduced symptoms of asthma in children and adolescents
- better stress management
- reduced hypertension
- reduced aggressive behavior in adolescent males
- improved migraine symptoms
According to a research, 6 weeks of pranayamic breathing, or breathing that focuses on regulating breath movement, can increase a person’s heart rate variability, which correlates with stress, as well as cognition and anxiety.
Uses Of 4-7-8 Breathing
Using 4-7-8 breathing in conjunction with tai chi may help reduce stress.
Certain breathing exercises, such as 4-7-8 breathing exercise, have been related to other relaxation techniques. Some people combine this breathing with the activities mentioned below:
- guided imagery
- progressive muscle relaxation
- repetitive prayer
- yoga, tai chi, and qigong
- mindfulness meditation
The most common uses of 4-7-8 breathing techniques are for stress and anxiety reduction. It is said to become more effective in helping people control their stress levels if they use it more often. In comparison, anti-anxiety treatments tend to lose more of their potency over time as the body responds to them.
Which Apps Can I Use For 4-7-8 Breathing?
People who want to try breathing exercises but are unsure of their ability to self-regulate can benefit from using an app. Apps for different platforms can be found in the Apple and Google Play stores. Breathe, for example, is a free app for Apple devices that allows users to learn the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Overall, consumers who have activated the software have given it positive feedback. It also has a feature that allows you to set reminders to use it during the day. The Google Play store has a free app named Prana Breath: Calm & Meditate. It encourages people to learn breathing patterns and various breathing techniques for relaxation.
Wrapping It Up
The 4-7-8 breathing pattern, as well as other breathing strategies, can provide various possible health benefits, such as assisting a person in falling asleep faster and lowering stress levels. The only reported side effect is dizziness. If this occurs, the person can either avoid using the procedure or adjust the duration of their breaths. Apps that alert people to use the practice during the day and help them pace their breathing are now available for interested smartphone users.