Best breathing exercises for sleep

If you have ever found yourself awake in bed, frustrated at not being able to sleep, good news! The answer can be as simple as a few breathing exercises.

The breathing exercises calm your nervous system, preventing insomnia and preparing your body to sleep. Even better, training your breathing is like any type of exercise.

The more you do it, the better you will do it. You will sleep more quickly at night. You can sleep in a noisy hotel room or plane. You will stress less during the day.

Armed with these breathing exercises, you will breathe better all day and you will fall asleep peacefully every night.

Breathing Exercises to help you fall asleep faster

Best Breathing Exercise for Sleep

Add one (or all) of these breathing exercises to your nightly routine to sleep well.

With the exception of the first two, all these exercises can be done lying on your back on the bed, with your eyes closed.

Before you try my best breathing exercise to fall asleep faster… 

Although there is a series of breathing exercises that you can try to relax and fall asleep, some of the basic principles apply to all of them.

It is always a good idea to close your eyes, which can help you avoid distractions. Concentrate on your breathing and think about the healing power of your breathing.

These nine different exercises each have slightly different benefits. Take a look to see what is the best combination for you and you will soon be sleeping like a baby.

1. Meditative breath

For a brief meditation before going to bed, sit with your back straight and your head slightly tilted forward.

Lengthen your breathing progressively. For the first exhalation, count one. Then count to two, then three, to five. After your fifth exhalation, counting to five, start again at one.

By maintaining this pattern, you keep your mind focused on your breathing instead of anxiety. Meditate for 10 minutes.

2. Alternating nostril breath

There is a reason why we gasp when we get excited or nervous. Buccal breathing stresses your body, while nasal breathing keeps your body in a stable and more relaxed state.

Tune your nasal breathing with this yoga breathing control technique known as nadi shodhana. Sitting, breathe through one nostril while gently blocking the other by pressing your finger against it.

When you exhale, release your finger and breathe via the other nostril, while blocking the opposite nostril.

3. Box Breathing

During the box breathing, you want to concentrate intensely on the oxygen you are introducing and expelling:

Sit up straight, breathe and then try to expel all the air from your lungs while exhaling. Inhale slowly through your nose and count to 5 in your head, filling your lungs with more air with each number.

Hold your breath and count to 5 in your head. Exhale slowly through your mouth, concentrating on extracting all the oxygen from your lungs.

Box Breathing is a common technique during meditation, a very popular method to find mental focus and relax. Meditation has many known benefits for your overall health.

4. Diaphragmatic breath

With one hand resting on the lower abdomen and the other on the chest, breathe deeply five times, inhaling counting to three, and then exhale counting to three.

Clarify your mind by focusing on the way your hand moves up and down according to your inhalations and exhalations.

5. Visualizing breath

best breathing exercise for sleep in a plane

While inhaling, imagine that air travels through your nose, through your entire body, and back again. Imagine that you travel through all your muscles, up to your toes and fingers, before you come back out during exhalation.

Focusing on your breathing activates your parasympathetic system, encouraging you to calm down, relax and lower your heart rate in preparation for sleep.

6. 4-7-8 Relaxing breath

First, place your tongue so that the tip rests against the crest of tissue behind the upper front teeth. Keep it there throughout the exercise.

Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whistle as you do it. Then close your mouth and inhale via your nose counting to four.

Hold your breath counting to seven. Exhale through the mouth, again making a whoosh sound, but this time do it counting to eight. Repeat this three more times.

If you cannot hold your breath all the time in the beginning, that’s fine. The important thing is the proportion, so it counts faster until you can work up to slower breaths.

sleep faster with the best breathing exercise for sleep

7. Lengthened breath

When your body is stressed, breathe faster to take more air. Engage it in a state of relaxation by breathing more time than you breathe.

Inhale counting to three, then exhale counting to six. Feel free to change the numbers that count, but the idea is to have a prolonged exhalation compared to your inhalation. Slow and deep breathing like this, known as pranayamic breathing, restores the autonomic nervous system.

8. Humming bee breath

Known by yogis as “brahmari”, the Sanskrit word for bee creates a buzz during this breathing exercise.

Inhale deeply and slowly through the nose, then exhale with the same slowness, using your throat to make a buzz while you do it.

While exhaling, close your ears with your index fingers to really increase the effect and concentrate on the buzz.

9. Buteyko Breathing

To practice breathing buteyko to sleep:

Sit in bed with your mouth gently closed (not puckered) and breathe through your nose at a natural rate, for about 30 seconds.

Breathe a little more intentionally in and out through the nose, once. Gently squeeze your nose with your thumb and forefinger, keeping your mouth closed too until you feel you need to breathe again.

With your mouth still closed, breathe deeply and exhale again through your nose.

Parting Words

No matter what type of breathing exercise you prefer, the evidence is clear that breathing exercises can help you relax, sleep and breathe more naturally and effectively.

With so many varieties to choose from, you may find yourself sound asleep before you know it.