How to fall asleep in under 1 minute
We’ve discussed previously why Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can make you physically and mentally exhausted (see the blog post here). But, unfortunately, regardless of how tired you are, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to get to sleep. Infact, for someone with PTSD or C-PTSD, hypervigilance can make getting to sleep really hard, and staying asleep even more difficult.
A US sleep expert, Dr Andrew Weil, claims that his technique of the ‘4-7-8’ method, can send anyone to sleep within one minute by calming the mind and relaxing the muscles – sounds ideal for someone with PTSD or C-PTSD!
The technique is grounded in the principles of the ancient Indian practice called pranayama, which means regulation of breath, and is used widely in yoga and pilates. It uses the form of yogic breathing in which you keep the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
‘You breathe in through your nose quietly and blow air out forcefully through your mouth making a whoosh sound. It produces a very pleasant altered state of consciousness. You may not get that the first time you do it but it’s one of the benefits of practicing.’
The changes in breath allow the lungs to become fully filled with air, allowing more oxygen into the body, which in itself, promotes a state of calm, and sends you to sleep – ideal if you wake in the middle of the night too.
‘When you first start, you’ll be desperate to just take in another breath, or you’ll want to speed up your counting, but if you stick to the numbers (or at least try to), and don’t take any breaks (in other words, consecutively repeat the 4-7-8 without resuming regular breathing), you can literally feel your heart rate slow down, your mind get quieter, and your whole body physically relax. It washes over you like a calming, relaxing drug. I can never remember getting past the first set of 4-7-8.’ said Alina Gonzalez.
Start practicing ‘4-7-8’ method with these steps:
1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths
It’s important to note, that while choosing your PTSD or C-PTSD recovery path you need to address both the symptoms and the underlying condition. NICE guidance updated in 2018 recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Please remember, these aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
IMAGE: Asleep in the back by BMiz
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