For as long as there’s been sleep as we know it, there’s been a poor bloke wide awake at 3 AM, desperately counting sheep to no avail, and seeking instruction on how to fall asleep fast from a village sage or something (now replaced by Google).
The average reported sleep time is 7 hours, but that obviously isn’t a guarantee. While 8% of Australians are fortunate enough to consistently catch over 9 hours of Zs, 12% of Australians sleep less than 5.5 hours, with plenty more swinging back and forth in between the two dichotomies.
According to research commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation, close to 60% of the domestic population experiences at least one sleep issue three or more times a week (high frequency), with a considerable 14.8% prevalence of chronic insomnia when classified by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, v.3 criteria.
“This suggests that for a huge proportion of our population, the pressures of work, families, social, or other lifestyle-related pressures prohibit them for getting the shut-eye they need,” says Professor Robert Adams, lead author of the report and Sleep Health Foundation spokesperson.
“It’s troubling to see just how common it is for Australians to struggle with their sleep when it’s such a vital aspect of good health and happiness. Failing to get the quality or quantity of sleep you need affects your mood, safety, and health, not to mention your relationships with family and friends – it’s very important to get it right.”
As you will have gathered, the trouble is often related to stress. Psychological pressure activates the body’s natural fight or flight response, which is a useful mechanism when there’s an actual situation, but the exact opposite when you’re trying to unwind for the day. Thankfully, Dr Andrew Weil from the University of Arizona believes the 4-7-8 breathing technique might be the solution we’ve been looking for.
“Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods,” says Dr Weil.
“By simply focusing your attention on your breathing, and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation.”
“This exercise is a natural tranquiliser for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilising drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently.”
Here are some instructions on how to fall asleep fast using the 4-7-8 method.
How To Fall Asleep Fast In Just 60 Seconds (4-7-8 Method)
Before you proceed, sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, and place the tip of your tongue against the tissue behind your upper front teeth. You will be breathing through your mouth and around your tongue. Try and hold all this throughout the entire exercise.
- Exhale through your mouth and empty your lungs.
- Inhale quietly through your nose and count to 4.
- Hold your breath and count to 7.
- Exhale hard through your mouth, pursing the lips to make a “whoosh sound” and count to 8.
- Inhale again and then repeat the whole cycle up to 4 times.
Practice this twice a day to start seeing results quicker. Avoid doing more than 4 cycles each time until you’ve gotten a firmer grasp on the 4-7-8 technique.
“Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens, before you react, whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep – Everyone can benefit from it.”