We are always run­ning some­where. Like squir­rels in a wheel. And our life is get­ting faster and faster every year. And a dynam­i­cal­ly devel­op­ing soci­ety dic­tates its own rules: the days are filled with work, and for some, its amount clear­ly exceeds the norm; evenings — house­hold chores and oth­er activ­i­ties. At the same time, some­one also expe­ri­ences finan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, feels emo­tion­al­ly burnt out because of work or for oth­er rea­sons unre­lat­ed to it. And in the end, all this can make it dif­fi­cult to relax and pro­voke stress, which, in turn, will lead to prob­lems with a night’s sleep. Con­cen­trat­ing on your breath will help you deal with this. Let’s look at the best breath­ing tech­niques that will calm your rest­less mind and help you fall into the gen­tle embrace of Mor­pheus.

What do breathing exercises do before bed?

What do breathing exercises do before bed?

Most tech­niques for facil­i­tat­ing the process of falling asleep involve slow, deep breaths in and out.

First­ly, this calms the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, and our brain sud­den­ly begins to under­stand that it’s time to go to rest.

And sec­ond­ly, such breath­ing brings the body into a state of gen­er­al slow­down. The heart no longer beats so fast, blood pres­sure may drop slight­ly, the lev­el of the stress hor­mone that blocks mela­tonin, which is respon­si­ble for a good and healthy night’s sleep, decreas­es.

All of this is part of the relax­ation process. A mea­sured rhythm of breath­ing will calm the mind and relax the body. The accu­mu­lat­ed anx­i­ety will be removed as if by hand, you will learn to cope with stress more eas­i­ly, and you will notice that breath­ing exer­cis­es are a great way to pre­pare for sleep.

Did you know?

Insom­nia is the most com­mon spe­cif­ic sleep dis­or­der, with about 30% of adults report­ing short-term prob­lems and 10% report­ing chron­ic insom­nia.

Breathing exercises: what should be considered?

You can do breath­ing exer­cis­es at any time, right before bed or when you wake up at night. And even dur­ing the day to relax and calm down.

It is best to do the exer­cis­es in a prone posi­tion. But some of them still rec­om­mend doing it while sit­ting. It’s also always a good idea to close your eyes so you don’t get dis­tract­ed. Just focus on your breath and think about its heal­ing pow­er.


50–70 mil­lion adults in the US suf­fer from sleep dis­or­ders. Where­in:

  • 48.0% report snor­ing;
  • 37.9% report­ed falling asleep unin­ten­tion­al­ly dur­ing the day at least once in the pre­vi­ous month;
  • 4.7% report­ed nod­ding or falling asleep while dri­ving at least once in the pre­vi­ous month.

Breathing exercises to help you fall asleep

Breathing exercises to help you fall asleep

Each of these exer­cis­es has dif­fer­ent ben­e­fits. Try them out and see which one suits you best.

Exercise number 1. Abdominal breathing

The diaphragm is a large mus­cle at the base of the lungs, pri­mar­i­ly respon­si­ble for breath­ing. Breath­ing from the diaphragm or bel­ly cre­ates neg­a­tive pres­sure in the pleur­al cav­i­ty. As a result, blood flow to the heart increas­es, the heart rate decreas­es, and you begin to feel calm and relaxed.

The fol­low­ing steps will help ensure that you are breath­ing deeply with your diaphragm and not shal­low­ly with your chest.

Step 1. Lying on your back with knees bent or sit­ting on a chair.

Step 2 One hand on the stom­ach, the oth­er on the chest.

Step 3 Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, keep­ing the hand on your chest still while the hand on your stom­ach ris­es with the breath.

Step 4 Exhale slow­ly through closed lips.

Keep your face relaxed while breath­ing. Inhale and exhale count­ing to make sure you are breath­ing slow­ly. Focus on the sound of your breath.

Con­tin­ue to breathe like this for 5–10 min­utes. Prac­tice this type of breath­ing reg­u­lar­ly, for exam­ple once a day.

By the way!

In a study pub­lished in jour­nal Per­spec­tives in Psy­chi­atric Careadults who prac­ticed diaphrag­mat­ic breath­ing for at least 10 min­utes twice a day for 8 weeks report­ed low­er lev­els of anx­i­ety.

Exercise number 2. Mantra repetition

Once you have mas­tered the art of diaphrag­mat­ic breath­ing, add a mantra to help you focus on the relax­ing aspect of breath­ing. Fol­low the instruc­tions below.

Step 1. Lying or sit­ting in a relaxed posi­tion.

Step 2 While inhal­ing through the diaphragm, say a phrase to your­self, for exam­ple, “I breathe in relax­ation.”

Step 3 Then at the exit, releas­ing the air from the abdomen, say “I exhale ten­sion.” As you do this, be aware of any ten­sion in your body and release it. You can even use your imag­i­na­tion. Think of these sen­sa­tions as visu­al events, such as air mov­ing in and out of your body.

Be sure to pause before exhal­ing and before inhal­ing. Keep doing this for 5–10 min­utes until you feel sleepy.

Exercise number 3. Breathing program 4–7‑8

Some med­ical experts con­firm the relax­ation ben­e­fits of this tech­nique, which involves inhal­ing for 4 sec­onds, hold­ing the breath for 7 sec­onds, and exhal­ing for 8 sec­onds.

Fol­low the steps below to prac­tice this type of breath­ing.

Step 1. Sit­ting with a straight back. Lips slight­ly part­ed. The tip of the tongue behind the front upper teeth.

Step 2 Exhale com­plete­ly, mak­ing a hoarse whistling sound as you do so.

Step 3 Press your lips togeth­er and inhale slow­ly through your nose for 4 sec­onds.

Step 4 Hold your breath for a count of 7.

Step 5 Now exhale for a full 8 sec­onds, mak­ing a whistling sound.

If you com­plete this cycle, you have tak­en one breath. Do this again three times.

By the way!

In a study pub­lished in The Jour­nal of Alter­na­tive and Com­ple­men­tary Med­i­cine, 39 adults were asked to per­form a pranaya­ma tech­nique sim­i­lar to 4–7‑8 breath­ing. While sit­ting, they inhaled through their nose for four sec­onds and then slow­ly exhaled for six sec­onds, for a total of five min­utes. Sys­tolic and dias­tolic blood pres­sure dropped sig­nif­i­cant­ly, as did the heart rate.

Exercise number 4. Counting while breathing

Exercise number 4. Counting while breathing

There are many vari­a­tions on the theme of count­ing breaths. Choose one of them and prac­tice until you feel sleepy. Fol­low the tips below.

Step 1. Lying in bed, focus on your breath­ing and try to relax.

Step 2 As you exhale and relax, feel how the bed sup­ports your body.

Step 3 Count from one to 10 and then back from 10 to one, but align the count with your exha­la­tions.

Step 4 Keep repeat­ing this sequence until you fall asleep.

Exercise number 5. Scanning the body

This method involves scan­ning your body for signs of ten­sion so that you can over­come them and fall asleep. Fol­low the steps below to prac­tice this tech­nique.

Step 1. Lying in bed, focus on relax­ing as you exhale.

Step 2 Feel the bed under­neath you and how it sup­ports you.

Step 3 Visu­al­ize every part of your body, start­ing at your head and work­ing your way through your entire body, to find places that feel tense. When you notice an area of ​​ten­sion, direct your breath to that spot. See if you can feel the ten­sion release and the part of your body relax.

Step 4 After you’ve fin­ished look­ing for ten­sion through­out your body, focus on exhal­ing. Also, repeat a mantra to your­self, such as the word “sleep” or any oth­er sig­nal that will help you start to doze off.

By fol­low­ing this tech­nique, you will find that both your mind and body begin to relax.


Sci­en­tists have found that body scans can reduce stress, pro­mote relax­ation, and improve sleep qual­i­ty. For exam­ple, study, held in 2020 with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of 54 teenagers, treat­ed for insom­nia found that a 20-minute body scan before bed helped them sleep longer and wake up less fre­quent­ly at night.

Exercise number 6. Breathing images

Exercise number 6. Breathing images

It may sound sim­ple, but imagery is a pow­er­ful way to relax, and so by doing these breath­ing exer­cis­es, you can help your­self slow down before bed.

The fol­low­ing steps will get it right.

Step 1. Lying in bed, focus on relax­ing as you exhale.

Step 2 Feel your bed sup­port­ing you as you enter into a relaxed state as you exhale.

Step 3 As you relax, focus on your exha­la­tions and notice how you feel as you exhale. Exam­ples of sen­sa­tions might include sink­ing into bed, feel­ing like every­thing is slow­ing down, feel­ing heav­ier, or even some­times feel­ing like you have more patience.

Step 4 When you relax, begin to imag­ine that your breath is made up of flow­ers. Watch as you breathe in and out and see how these col­ors match your breath.

Step 5 Focus only on your breath­ing until you fall asleep.

Exercise number 7. Alternative nasal breathing

Here are the steps for the alter­nate nose breath­ing exer­cise, also called nadi shod­hana pranaya­ma.

Step 1. Sit­ting cross-legged.

Step 2 The left hand rests on the knee, and the thumb of the right hand is pressed to the nose.

Step 3 Exhale com­plete­ly, then close the right nos­tril.

Step 4 Deep breath through the left nos­tril.

Step 5 Now the left nos­tril is closed, and through the open right nos­tril, you slow­ly exhale all the air.

Step 6 Con­tin­ue this cycle for 5 min­utes, end­ing with an exha­la­tion through the left nos­tril.


A study con­duct­ed in 2013 among young med­ical stu­dents from Indiashowed that peo­ple who tried nasal breath­ing exer­cis­es felt less stress after­wards.

Exercise #8

Exercise #8

In this exer­cise, you also focus on your diaphragm to breathe more nat­u­ral­ly.

Step 1. Sit­ting up straight, you can right in bed.

Step 2 Take a deep breath (whether through your nose or mouth) while count­ing to 4, then, con­tin­u­ing to count to 4, exhale slow­ly through your nose.

Step 3 Focus on rais­ing and low­er­ing your bel­ly and lis­ten for breath sounds com­ing from your stom­ach.


This relax­ing method helps break the habit of yawn­ing and sigh­ing.

Expert com­ment

Ele­na Rashevskaya, psy­chother­a­pist, psy­chol­o­gist

Prob­lems with falling asleep at night always remain extreme­ly impor­tant. Often we fall asleep due to fatigue, bare­ly reach­ing the bed. Because of this, all the impor­tant events that occurred dur­ing the day can “get stuck” in the mind, and some­times even end in a ner­vous break­down. To avoid such con­se­quences, as a psy­chother­a­pist who often encoun­ters such prob­lems with patients, I sug­gest the fol­low­ing:

  1. Before going to bed, it is impor­tant to tune in to a night’s rest — talk to your­self or with a per­son you trust. We ana­lyze what hap­pened, find a rea­son­able solu­tion or expla­na­tion, thus remov­ing the neg­a­tive. And only after that we go “into the arms of Mor­pheus.”
  2. Accord­ing to patients, they real­ly like the “but­ter­fly hug” exer­cise. This is one of the options for breath­ing exer­cis­es. You need to close your eyes, take three deep breaths, after each, mak­ing a sec­ond delay, and then four exha­la­tions. The num­ber of exha­la­tions should be one more. We exhale and men­tal­ly let go of all the bad things accu­mu­lat­ed dur­ing the day. If there is a part­ner next to us, we ask him to light­ly and gen­tly touch our fore­arms. If we are alone, we touch our­selves, as if the wing of a but­ter­fly.
  3. The choice of pil­low and mat­tress is very impor­tant. The pil­low should be flat, no more than 7–8 cm high, of medi­um soft­ness. The mat­tress is prefer­ably ortho­pe­dic, well-kept shape, medi­um hard­ness. This will ensure the phys­i­o­log­i­cal posi­tion of your spine and, accord­ing­ly, pro­long health and longevi­ty.

If you fol­low these sim­ple rec­om­men­da­tions, you are guar­an­teed a deep and pro­duc­tive sleep.

Expert com­ment

Nina Kolomiyt­se­va, cer­ti­fied spe­cial­ist of the Inter­na­tion­al Yoga Asso­ci­a­tion (Yoga alliance)

Breath­ing prac­tices exist not only for recov­er­ing from acute res­pi­ra­to­ry viral infec­tions and main­tain­ing immu­ni­ty, but also for relax­ation. Breath­ing exer­cis­es in the evening qual­i­ta­tive­ly improve the qual­i­ty of sleep, as they allow you to tune in to the upcom­ing vaca­tion. Among oth­er things, breath­ing exer­cis­es before bed help cleanse the air­ways, improve blood cir­cu­la­tion, relieve mus­cle clamps and spasms, help nor­mal­ize the func­tion­ing of the ner­vous sys­tem, and pre­vent insom­nia and rest­less sleep.

Before you start breath­ing exer­cis­es, you need to per­form a few sim­ple steps.

First­ly, be sure to ven­ti­late the room. If you have no prob­lems with immu­ni­ty, you can leave the win­dow open all night.

Sec­ond­ly, pick up spa­cious clothes for sleep from soft nat­ur­al fab­rics.

Third­ly, turn off all devices that some­how inter­fere with nor­mal sleep, includ­ing the TV.

Breath­ing exer­cis­es can be per­formed lying in bed with your eyes closed. It is very impor­tant to focus on doing the exer­cis­es and not think at this moment about some of your affairs, prob­lems, etc. All these ques­tions must be left until the morn­ing, guid­ed by ancient wis­dom that the morn­ing is wis­er than the evening. Breath­ing dur­ing gym­nas­tics should be car­ried out only through the nose. It is impor­tant that the inhala­tion be short­er than the exha­la­tion.

Exer­cise num­ber 1. Breathe out. Then start inhal­ing slow­ly, first fill­ing the stom­ach with air (it should inflate at the same time), then the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe ribs (they should expand at the same time), last we fill the chest with air (its upper part, includ­ing the col­lar­bone area). Exha­la­tion is also car­ried out slow­ly and in the reverse order: the upper chest, ribs, stom­ach. Repeat this exer­cise at least 5 times.

Exer­cise num­ber 2. Here you need to focus on breath­ing with your stom­ach. Try not to involve the chest and its upper part. To con­trol the cor­rect exe­cu­tion of this tech­nique, place your hand on your stom­ach. Repeat this exer­cise 5–7 times.

Exer­cise num­ber 3. This exer­cise can be called count­ing breath­ing. Breathe out. Then start inhal­ing and as you do this, count to 4, hold your breath and count to 7, slow­ly exhale and count to 8. Hold your breath and repeat this exer­cise a few more times.

Exer­cise num­ber 4. In this exer­cise, we count to 10: odd num­bers — inhale, even — exhale. This tech­nique helps to con­cen­trate and teach you to dis­con­nect from the out­side world.

When per­form­ing any breath­ing exer­cis­es, do not for­get the main thing: a short breath, a deep exha­la­tion. And it is guar­an­teed to help you fall asleep very quick­ly.

Expert com­ment

Anna Deva­vani, psy­chol­o­gist

It is real­ly eas­i­est to start breath­ing exer­cis­es before going to bed. Since you are already lying on a flat sur­face, which means with a straight back, and at the same time your body is as relaxed as pos­si­ble. If this is not the case, find a way to lie flat and “dis­solve” all the ten­sion in the body. As far as you can!

Start breath­ing deep into your bel­ly. For con­ve­nience, place your hands on your stom­ach. They should rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Do not speed up your breath­ing, but make it deep­er each time. We often tight­en our bel­ly to look slim­mer. Now for­get about har­mo­ny. Just relax your bel­ly and let it expand. The chest expands as you inhale. The most impor­tant thing is that you feel for the very mus­cle that dri­ves breath­ing: the diaphragm. It is she who allows, by “clean­ing up” the organs of the abdom­i­nal cav­i­ty, as wide as pos­si­ble to stretch our pul­monary furs.

When you feel that your breath­ing has become deep­er, imag­ine that with each breath your body is filled with gold­en ener­gy of joy, live­li­ness. And with each exha­la­tion, con­cern, fear, ten­sion leave you.

An advanced ver­sion of the exer­cise: imag­ine that the ener­gy on inhala­tion does not come through the mouth or nose, but flows inward, as if through the pores of the whole body. And on exha­la­tion — leaves it. This vari­a­tion gives sur­pris­ing­ly strong sen­sa­tions in the body, and it relax­es much faster.

The exer­cise time can start from 5 min­utes, and last as long as you wish. I rec­om­mend doing the exer­cise for at least 10 min­utes every day.

Hap­py prac­tice!

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