It all began a week before my best friend’s wedding. I was due to give a speech, and I’d become so incredibly nervous that I just couldn’t fall asleep whatever I tried.
After three days without rest, I asked the bride’s mother (who taught meditation classes) what to do. She claimed to have just the trick to solve my problem. It not only worked, but also changed my life!
It’s called the ’4-7-8′ method. This is what you need to do:
1. Breathe calmly through your nose for 4 seconds.
2. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
3. Breathe out slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds.
It’s really that simple. It may sound crazy, but it really works.
How it works
I assumed she’d just been joking. To my complete surprise, however, I woke up the next morning, realising only then that I hadn’t even managed to count up to 8 at the end of the exercise before I’d fallen asleep.
This is what I found out about how it works. When you’re stressed or anxious, the amount of adrenaline in your blood increases, and your breathing gets faster and lighter. This breathing exercise acts as a kind of sedative. Deliberately slowing down your breathing in this way forces the rhythm of your heart to slow down, making you calm very quickly; it’s simple physiology!
The same exercise helps to calm down your mind, too, simply because it makes you concentrate entirely on your breathing. You don’t realise it, but at this moment your central nervous system gradually reduces its activity, and feelings of anxiety disappear. Any neurologist can confirm this for you.
The result is that your whole body relaxes. In terms of the speed and strength of the physical effect it has, the exercise is similar to an anaesthetic. It was investigated by Harvard medical doctor Andrew Weil, who found that the ’4-7-8′ method has been well-known to Indian yogi for several centuries. They use it during meditation practice in order to achieve a state of complete relaxation. It’s safe to say, therefore, that it’s completely harmless.
How it can be useful to you, specifically
I can tell you one thing for certain: if this exercise has anything like the same effect on you as it does on me, it’ll help you fall asleep much, much faster, and in all kinds of situations. If you wake up late at night because something’s bugging you, for example, it will help. The same goes for when you’re feeling nervous ahead of a competition or an important life event. The ’4-7-8′ method is guaranteed to let you get the rest you need!
From that moment before the wedding I’ve been using it every night, and every time I get up in the morning I’m amazed at just how well it works!