A few months back, I’d read about 4-7-8 breathing that says it can help you fall asleep in 1 minute, or pretty close. Not to sound like a pessimist but I’ve always been told that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is… So I really just brushed it off.

Well, after more references to the technique kept coming up I decided to try it myself. Before I explain the exercise, please note that this breathing is recommended whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension, anxiety or stress. It is touted as a “natural tranquilizer.”

Here is how Dr. Andrew Weils explains the technique:

The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

This exercise is rather simple and although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you.

Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 Breath.

I can’t say that I feel asleep in 1 minute but it definitely reduces my brain clutter that occurs before bed and helped me calm down and relax. If I had to guess, I was asleep in less than 5 minutes but of course, I can’t be sure.


Sleep Well,