Breathing Techniques for Better Cycles of SleepLuke Coutinho
A lot of people keep asking how many hours of sleep should I get every night. The medical literature usually says seven to eight hours or sometimes eight to nine hours. But it’s not really about how many hours you sleep because there are a lot of people who sleep for even five and six and seven hours and they’re absolutely fine. What really matters is the quality of sleep that you get.
When you were a baby you slept for more than 12 hours in a day because there’s a process called growth and repair that’s constantly happening in a baby’s body. Your immunity is also growing at the time. You can gym as much as you want, you can eat the best food and you could be meditating and taking care of your stress levels but if you don’t have the right quality and quantity of sleep your whole health goal will not be achieved.
During your entire cycle of sleep you go through almost three to four different cycles and rhythms of sleep and at each interval at every cycle there’s a different function happening in your body. Your brain has a lymphatic system called a glymphatic system that works while you sleep. Your brain detoxifies while you sleep unlike your body.
So how do we get into a deeper cycle of sleep because a lot of people say that they have slept seven to eight hours and still feel like they need more sleep. A good night’s sleep is when you wake up with energy levels, when you wake up feeling rested. That’s how you need to feel. If you’re waking up to the cup of coffee and the caffeine kick is keeping you energized that means the quality of your sleep isn’t that good.
So how do you improve the quality of your sleep?
6-6-12 Breathing Technique: I want to explain one simple breathing technique that a lot of you have benefited from. This is inexpensive and it’s free. I call it the 6-6-12 cycle of breathing. It’s extremely simple.
For 6 seconds you sit with your back straight or cross leg in a comfortable position but your spine has to be erect. This is for 6 seconds you slowly inhale. Now how you breathe is extremely important. Most of us breathe the wrong way. When we inhale our chest rises but when you inhale your tummy should rise. Always think of it as a balloon. When you put air or oxygen in a balloon the balloon inflates and when you take the air of the balloon it deflates. So exactly the same way you breathe. When you inhale your tummy rises. So put your hand on your tummy on your belly and as you inhale your tummy should raise first and then your chest and as you exhale your tummy deflates. So in the 6-6-12 technique of breathing this is what you do; 6 seconds you inhale slow and gentle. Then you hold for 6 seconds and the exhale is extremely important. You make like a whoosh kind of a sound. You don’t really make that sound. That’s how you make your mouth and you breathe out. You exhale with a whoosh kind of a sound for 12 seconds. So it’s 6 inhales 6 hold and 12 exhales.
Now if that’s too much for you can drop it to a 5-5-11 or a 4-4-10 and slowly build up to a 6-6-12. This technique really puts you into that very deep level of sleep and you got to try. Don’t do it on the first day and second day and see it doesn’t work and give up on it. Remember anything that’s natural takes time to work because it’s working against all the bad lifestyles that we built up over the past weeks, months and years So give it a chance be patient with it and it’s going to work.
Left Nostril Breathing: Another sleeping technique that really worked for many people was the left nostril breathing. When you close your right nostril and you only inhale and exhale through your left nostril. That works wonders for your sleep as well.
Remember if you’re on sleeping pills or you’re on sleeping medication, it’s fine a lot of people need it but you should keep it in the back of your mind that eventually you want to get off that because that’s addictive and soon if you’re taking a five mg now your body is going to get immune to it and you’re going to need more and more and more and every medication you take does affect your brain, hormone levels and your liver.
I understand a lot of people have to be on it for the right reasons but always make an attempt to try and change your lifestyle trying to do things differently to slowly get off that pill with your doctor’s permission of course and try to be natural because sleep comes naturally to us. It is part of a natural being and if it’s not to us there are things that we’re doing that is not allowing for it to express in its natural way. Like I said that’s usually gadgets, it’s anxiety, it’s stress, it’s the belief that we cannot sleep, and it’s the belief that we need a pill to make us sleep. Remember it will take a couple of days and nights of practice to make this technique work for you but it does work for sure.