Deep Breathing Exercises for Sleep

If you are one of the millions living with insomnia, you may be looking for techniques to help you sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lead to daytime exhaustion, trouble concentrating, depression and other serious health issues. There are a lot of things you can try, such as regular exercise, getting yourself into a routine and getting out of bed, if you are having trouble falling asleep. Using deep breathing exercises can also help you to fall asleep.

Quiet Mind and Body
Learning to do deep breathing exercises helps to shift the mind away from worrisome thoughts. Deep breathing often feels backward to many people so it takes concentration to master. Taking slow deep breaths also sends signals to the brain that you are calm, which in turn can slow down your heart rate and nervous activity.

Breathe Correctly
The idea is to focus on allowing your diaphragm to drop when you inhale so your lungs can fully expand. You then want to allow the diaphragm to rise as you exhale, which will compress the lungs and push the air out as you breathe out.

Nasal Breathing
Breathing through the nose is physiologically more relaxing for the body. Your nasal cavity is especially designed to warm and filter air you inhale. The mouth does not have these same structures. Breathing through the nose allows your body to process the air more efficiently, which will slow down the activity of your heart and nervous system.

The Technique
Inhale through your nose and allow the belly to move outward. As the abdomen moves out, room is created for the diaphragm to drop. Then exhale through the nose and let the belly move inward so the diaphragm presses up. If you are dealing with sinus or respiratory issues, try breathing in through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips.

Focus Attention
To help slow down the mind to encourage sleep, keep your attention on the movement of the breath. Make each breath a little slower and a little deeper. With each exhale, allow your body to feel heavy and sink into the bed.

Set Mood
It may be helpful to have soft music playing in the background. Use a CD player with a timer so the music will not play all night. If you do not fall within a reasonable time, get up and try again later.