Struggling to fall asleep is something that affects many people around the world. Regardless of whether it’s the result of anxiety, stress, or a myriad of other factors, it’s a problem that can seriously affect one’s day-to-day life. While there are a variety of tips to help aid in better sleep, breathing techniques have been a tool that I use before bed that has made a significant difference in my quality and ability to sleep.

Breathing techniques can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. By focusing on the rhythm of your breath, you can quiet your mind and calm down your racing thoughts.

Let’s dive in and discuss some of the most effective breathing techniques that you can use to fall asleep faster and sleep more peacefully.

Counting Breaths

This is one of the most simple breathing techniques that you can use to prepare your mind and body for sleep. Simply lie down in bed, close your eyes, and begin to focus on your breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth. As you do so, start counting each breath. Try to work up to counting to ten. You’ll probably find that you start to feel sleepier as you do.

This technique helps to focus on the present moment by bringing attention back to your breath whenever you find yourself distracted or overwhelmed. This type of mindful practice not only relaxes the body and mind but can also help boost energy and productivity when done outside of bedtime. I often sit down and inhale 3-5 times when it’s been a long day. I also do this during the day when I feel overwhelmed or want to slow down and savor the moment. Regardless of the time of day, it increases self-awareness, allowing you to recognize and better manage your emotions. With regular practice, the counting breath technique can help aid in falling asleep, cultivate a more positive outlook on life, and reduce stress levels in the long term.

4-7-8 Breathing Technique

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a popular technique that is known to work quickly and effectively. For this technique, start by inhaling for four seconds through your nose, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this process until you feel more relaxed and ready for bed.

One of the key benefits of the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. This makes it an ideal choice for those who are looking for a quick and easy way to relax, even when on the go. It can also be combined with other relaxation techniques, such as stretching or mindfulness meditation, giving users more options to personalize their experience. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is a technique that can quiet down your racing thoughts and prepare your mind and body for relaxation. For this breathing technique, start by sitting cross-legged. You can prop up your hips with a pillow if it’s more comfortable. This technique begins with inhaling deeply through both nostrils. Then, exhale through the right nostril while blocking the left with your thumb. After that, inhale again through the same nostril and then switch to the other side, exhaling out of your left nostril while blocking off your right one. You should continue alternating between sides as you practice this technique. 

This technique can help relax the body and mind during times of stress or anxiety, which could ultimately lead to a better quality of sleep. Along with improved sleep patterns, alternate nostril breathing may also lead to increased concentration and mental clarity throughout the day. 

Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing is a popular technique that involves focusing on your breath and being fully present. Lie down on your back with your arms by your sides and your palms facing up. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slowly count to four as you inhale and six as you exhale. As you do this, focus on the sensation of the air going in and out of your body. Allow yourself to become aware of each breath; if your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the feeling of breathing. 

Mindful breathing isn’t just limited to yourself – it’s a practice that can be shared too! Research has found mindfulness meditation can have positive effects on relationships when done together, such as increased empathy and improved communication. This is a great reason to loop in a roommate, children, partner, or spouse and implement it as an evening activity for the improved rest of your entire household.  It could be a great way to connect and build stronger relationships while also benefitting your well-being. 

Humming Breath

Humming breath is a simple exercise that can be done anywhere and at any time. Start by sitting comfortably with your spine in an upright position, gently close your eyes, and focus your attention on the sound of your breath. As you inhale, silently count to four, and as you exhale, make a low humming sound from the back of your throat or lips for a count of four. Do this for 8-10 breaths, and then take a few moments to sit in silence. Notice any changes in your body and mind before opening your eyes slowly. 

The recommended length of time to practice humming breath is three minutes or more. However, this time can be extended up to fifteen minutes, depending on your individual needs. To ensure that the practice is effective, keep the vibration in the upper end of your nasal cavity by humming through your nostrils. A good starting point is to take a full inhale, then exhale slowly and continuously while humming the entire time. 


Breathing techniques are an easy and effective way to relax your mind and body and prepare yourself for a more restful night’s sleep. Try experimenting with each of these techniques until you find what works best for you. Pair these breathing techniques with other relaxation techniques, like taking a warm bath and turning off electronics before bed, and you should find yourself drifting off to sleep with ease. Sweet dreams!

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