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Use Belly Breathing to Rid Yourself of Insomnia

Whether you are suffering from insomnia, or just have trouble falling to sleep, belly breathing is one technique that definitely might be able to help. Also known as abdominal breathing, this is a technique that has been partly adapted from yoga and has been proven to make it easier to fall asleep.


More and more sleep experts are starting to turn towards new techniques as a way to treat insomnia and other problems getting to sleep, as more evidence is starting to show these problems to be purely mental and related to an inability to relax or let go of the stress from the day. 

The majority of these different techniques all fall under the treatment method known as cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a blanket psychological term that involves getting a person to understand the thoughts and emotions behind their behaviors.

The reason that this type of treatment is useful for people suffering from insomnia is that it allows the individual to understand the reasons behind their inability to fall asleep, and by understanding these reasons, they can work to make changes that will hopefully allow them to fall asleep easier.

However, belly breathing and the many other meditative and relaxation techniques now being used to treat sleeping problems are not technically considered to be cognitive behavioral therapy by some experts. 

That said, after understanding the reasons for a problem, in this case sleeping problems caused by an inability to let go of stress, the next step in cognitive behavioral therapy is to develop techniques which can be used to manage or treat the problem, and this is where belly breathing comes in.

What is Belly Breathing?

belly breathingWe all have the ability to breathe in through our bellies. In fact, it is actually the most natural and powerful type of breathing we can do, but for some reason, most of us simply never do it. 

Abdominal breathing is a technique where you try to breathe in as slowly and as deeply as possible until the air coming in completely fills up your lungs. 

If you concentrate on pushing out your belly when breathing this way, you will actually see that it continually expands as you breathe in.

This type of breathing is also referred to as diaphragmatic breathing and is often performed by singers when warming up before a performance. Although this particular type of breathing is known as diaphragmatic, all types of breathing actually make use of the diaphragm. This type just makes the most use of it.

The diaphragm is a strong muscle sheet that stretches between the chest and the abdominal cavities and controls our breathing. When you breathe in, the diaphragm contracts downwards to create more room in the chest so the lungs can fill with air. When you breathe out, the diaphragm pushes back up and helps to expel air out of the lungs. Belly breathing is all about getting the diaphragm to go as far downwards as possible, allowing your lungs to fully fill up with air. 

 

One of the reasons that this type of breathing is so helpful for treating sleeping problems is that it requires you to focus all of your attention on your breathing, thus clearing your mind of all other distractions.

 

belly breathingStill, the main reason that abdominal breathing relaxes the body is entirely scientific. When we breathe normally, only the top two-thirds or so of our lungs are filled with oxygen. However, the lower part of our lungs contain a huge number of small blood vessels that help to carry oxygen to our cells, but these bottom vessels are seldom utilized. 

So, by using this breathing technique and fully filling the lungs with oxygen, we can fully make use of all of the oxygen carrying blood vessels in our lungs. 

This has the effect of slowing down the heart rate and reducing blood pressure, as it doesn't need to pump as hard or as much to carry the necessary oxygen to our cells because the breathing makes our blood richer in oxygen. This means that each pump carries much more oxygen throughout the body.

Another reason people often feel stressed out, anxious, or short of breath is because they are breathing too quickly and this causes carbon dioxide build up in the blood. However, belly breathing allows for total oxygen exchange, which means replacing all of the bad carbon dioxide with fresh, clean oxygen.

All of these things have the effect of quickly calming down the body and the mind, and are very useful in achieving the meditation like state we experience right before going to sleep, so it's no wonder this technique is starting to become so highly recommended as a way to combat sleeping problems.

How to Use Belly Breathing to Fall Asleep Easier

belly breathingUsing this technique to help you fall asleep is actually quite easy and anyone can do it. Of course, like anything, it will get easier with time as you get more used to it. The one thing you need to make sure to do is to focus your mind entirely on your breathing. Try to clear your head of any distractions and simply concentrate on each breath in and out.

The first step is to wait until you are tired to go to bed. There's no point in trying any relaxation technique if your body simply isn't tired yet. Once in bed, lie on your back and focus on breathing in as deeply as possible, making sure to breathe into your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose until your lungs are totally full, and then hold the breath for a moment before breathing out slowly, preferably through your mouth.

When breathing out, purse your lips like you're whistling, making sure you're breathing slowly and steadily, and letting your body relax into the bed as you do so. Your out breath should take twice as long as it did to breathe in. Keep repeating this process of slowly breathing in and out for at least a few minutes, or until you feel completely relaxed and ready to sleep.


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