I suffered from insomnia most of my life so I am well acquainted with the torture of tossing in bed for hours. No more.
The first way I learned to become a sleeper was by using EFT Tapping.
It’s a simple procedure of tapping on facial points while thinking or saying the thing that is bothering you. It worked. I became a sleeper.
Of course, I’m still me and when I get into bed, I am often still thinking thoughts which bother me and cause stress. However, the only time I need to use EFT for sleep is when there is something big that I can’t shut off. It always works.
But now I’m a sleeper and most days I relax in bed by utilizing a technique called “diaphragmatic or belly breathing”.
Take a deep breath. Notice if your shoulders automatically move up? Or maybe your belly extends? If your belly extends, you are already breathing diaphragmatically. If you breathe into breath your chest, that is “stress breathing”. Most people still breathe this way and so did I. The body learns stress breathing during times of fight-or-flight, so it arises naturally. At its worst, it is called hyperventilation. However, we are not always in fight-or-flight and we come to rely on this type of breathing way too much.
The good news is that you can take over your breathing and it’s very easy to learn belly breathing. The more you concentrate on doing this, the faster your body will re-learn that this is the type of breathing that feels best.
To begin, place one palm on your chest, and one palm on your belly, just above your belly button.
Take a deep breath in to the count of 4 while trying to keep your chest still, and only moving the hand that is on your belly. This can take practice and may not feel normal if you are normally a stress-breather.
Now hold the breath for the count of 2.
Slowly breathe out to the count of 7.
Breathing into your belly is diaphragmatic breathing, and will result in your belly extending as you take in oxygen, and relaxing as you slowly exhale.
I find myself noticeably relaxed after doing it 4X consciously. I also let my jaw relax and my tongue rest in my mouth as I do the breathing. It’s powerful, relaxing stuff.
So why do this?
For one thing, your vagus nerve is stimulated by the movement of the diaphragm in belly breathing and slows your heart rate. It recognizes the cues of safety and sends that information to the amygdala so it can turn off defenses, such as those that arise from a sense of anxiety or threat (AKA fight-or-flight). The brain is interpreting and regulating your body through this nerve.
Here are some physiological changes that occur:
- reduces levels of stress hormones in the blood
- balances levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood
- improves the immune system
- increases physical energy
- increases feelings of calm and wellbeing
Performing belly breathing at night before bed will help your brain “remember” to breathe this way all night. You will wake up feeling more rested and you’ll have more consistent energy during your day.
Also utilize belly breathing anytime you want to calm down. Perhaps before meditation – you will spend less of it with monkey mind. Or maybe when someone has angered you and you want to respond without escalating. Or just before anything challenging.
So, is belly breathing worth it? It’s probably the most useful technique you will ever need.