Have you ever tried to fall asleep, but the effort to fall asleep just made it harder to fall asleep? You’re not alone. According to the CDC, over one-third of adults in the United States get less than the recommended amount of sleep, with a significant portion of them struggling with the act of falling asleep. Whether it’s stress or an overly-active mind, the solution to falling asleep more effectively could be as simple as breathing. More specifically, belly breathing.
Belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is a deep breathing technique that engages your diaphragm, the dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of your ribcage that’s responsible for respiratory function. When you inhale, your diaphragm moves downward and your lungs expand, creating negative pressure that drives air in through the nose and mouth, filling the lungs with air.
This produces maximum oxygen intake while relaxing the body. Chest breathing is often shallower, and less beneficial. Restrictive clothing, poor posture, stress, and weakened muscles all contribute to chest breathing.
So if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try these belly breathing steps:
Lie down on your Milton mattress (wink) in your most comfortable position. Most people prefer lying on their backs with the lights off. To get you warmed up and focused on breathing, take a few regular breaths in and out through your nose, nice and easy.
Next, place one hand on your chest. This hand should not move much during belly breaths. Place your other hand just below your ribcage. This hand should rise as you push your belly out to breathe in, and fall as you bring your belly in to breathe out. Let your belly relax. You should feel the hand that's over it fall inward toward your spine. Don't force your stomach inward by squeezing or clenching your muscles. Nice and deep relaxed breaths. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
People often do this until they fall asleep. The increased oxygen flow along with the mindful action of belly breathing typically result in deep relaxation and shorter duration to falling asleep.
Give it a try and see if it helps you. And if that doesn't work, maybe it’s time to upgrade to a new Milton mattress.