In this latest installment of ‘The Total Self’, we are talking about sleep. Facts and a new sleep exercise. REMINDER: This article is not a substitute for the sound medical advice of your primary care provider. Did you know that at least 25% of all American adults suffer from insomnia? The true cost of the lack of sleep is as follows (according to The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center):
- Direct costs of sleepiness and lost productivity on the job is estimated between $16-$20 BN (USD) annually.
- Drowsy drivers account for at least 125,000 to 150,000 crash incidents reported by police annually in the U.S. alone.
- At least 45-50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders – and at least 75% of these go undiagnosed.
Sleep is very important. Though the body and mind have monitoring and defense mechanisms to keep the body aware of surroundings during sleep, the true purpose of sleep is to reboot the brain and heal from tiredness, stress or even small injuries. If you’re anxious, overcaffeinated, or stressed out, it can and is very difficult to get the sleep you need and deserve, especially when you are dead tired.
There is a sleep exercise that has been reported to help. The 4-7-8 Method, formulated by one Andrew Weil M.D. Dr. Weil is a pioneer in integrated medicine using holistic healing methods. The 4-7-8 Method is as follows:
- Breathe out. Assume a comfortable position in your bed (or anywhere), Breathe out slowly, puckering your lips as if you’re about to whistle, making a soft “whoosh” sound.
- Inhale and count to four. After exhaling, close your mouth, inhale and count to four (a slow count- thousand-one, thousand-two, and so on)
- Hold your breath and count to seven. As much as possible, hold your breath until you reach a seven count. If you can’t reach that, try a four or five-count- but build it up to the seven count.
- Exhale and count to eight. Exhale. Pucker up and exhale again, this time to an eight-count.
NOTE: Remember to use your nose to inhale and exhale out of the mouth. Keep the ratio at 4-7-8 while doing this exercise. Don’t worry if you can’t get 4-7-8 the first few times. Keep at it until you achieve 4-7-8. This relaxes the body and makes it much easier to fall asleep.
This technique and others like it are “natural tranquilizers”.
As always, consult your primary care provider before starting this or any other health maintenance regimen.
About Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. http:// www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART2043/AbcAndrew-Weil-MD.html
Breathing: Three Exercises. http://drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html