This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help people get to sleep. Some proponents claim that the method helps people get to sleep in 1 minute.
There is limited scientific research to support this method, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this type of deep, rhythmic breathing is relaxing and may help ease people into sleep.
In this article, we look at how to perform this breathing technique, why it might work, and apps that could help.
What is 4-7-8 breathing?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique requires a person to focus on taking a long, deep breath in and out. Rhythmic breathing is a core part of many meditation and yoga practices as it promotes relaxation.
Dr. Andrew Weil teaches the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which he believes can help with the following:
- reducing anxiety
- helping a person get to sleep
- managing cravings
- controlling or reducing anger responses
Dr. Weil is a celebrity doctor and the founder and director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
There is an association between certain breathing techniques, such as 4-7-8 breathing, and other relaxation techniques. Some people couple this breathing with the following practices:
- guided imagery
- progressive muscle relaxation
- repetitive prayer
- yoga, tai chi, and qigong
- mindfulness meditation
The most common uses of 4-7-8 breathing are for reducing stress and anxiety. With frequent use, it reportedly becomes more effective in helping a person manage their stress levels.
This improvement is in contrast to anti-anxiety drugs, which tend to lose some of their effectiveness over time as the body adjusts to them.
Which apps can I use for 4-7-8 breathing?
People who are interested in trying breathing techniques but unsure of their ability to self-regulate may wish to use an app to help them. People can find apps for various devices in the Apple and Google Play stores.
For example, Breathe is a free app for Apple products, which helps people practice the 4-7-8 breathing method. Overall, the app has good reviews from people who have installed it. It also includes a feature to set reminders to use it regularly during the day.
A free app called Prana Breath: Calm & Meditate is available from the Google Play store. It helps users practice breathing cycles and different methods of breathing for relaxation.
The 4-7-8 breathing pattern and other breathing techniques may offer many potential health benefits, such as helping a person fall asleep faster and lowering their stress levels.
The only reported side effect is lightheadedness. If a person experiences this, they should either stop using the technique or modify the length of their breaths.
Interested mobile users can also try apps to remind them to use the technique throughout the day and help them pace their breathing.
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