Doing This Thing for Just 15 Minutes a Day Will Help You Sleep Better

Take a deep breath and read on.
smiling couple relaxing in bed with eyes closed, breathing air, stress relief on weekend or vacation, woman lying with hands behind the head after waking up, doing morning exercises or yoga

There's nothing more frustrating than tossing and turning through the night, only to wake feeling groggy and miserable. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults 18 to 64 years of age should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. But if you're like one third of the adults in the U.S., you're probably getting nowhere close to the suggested shut-eye.

The CDC warns that consistent sleep deprivation can lead to chronic illnesses, such as depression, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Sleepiness can also cause mistakes at work, car crashes, and unpleasant mood swings. Basically, don't expect to make new friends if you're sleep deprived.

To get better sleep, you can follow a few common guidelines, such as limiting your screen time, drinking a cup of hot decaffeinated tea, or turning down the thermostat. But there's a better proven solution to your sleeping problem. If you take 15 minutes out of your day to meditate and complete deep breathing exercises, you may find it much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Here's how it works.

Practice mindfulness meditation.

Take 10 to 15 minutes to focus on staying calm and being in the moment at any point throughout your day. Taking this moment to relax and reflect allows your body to elicit the relaxation response. The more you can train your body to tap into this relaxation response, the easier it will be to fall asleep at night as soon as your head hits the pillow. According to Dr. Herbert Benson, MD, from the Benson-Henry Institute, "The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation. That way, it's easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can't sleep."

Perform the 4-7-8 breathing exercise.

When you settle into your bed for the night, take a minute to perform the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This will also allow your body to relax, get rid of nagging thoughts, and focus on sleep. To complete the exercise:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth.
  • With a closed mouth, inhale through your nose for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely for a count of eight.

Repeat the cycle three more times with your eyes closed. Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., creator of this breathing exercise calls it "a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system." When you can calm your nervous system, you can more easily drift off to sleep quickly after laying down.

By taking just a few minutes to practice mindful meditation and breathing exercises, you can take control of your brain, making it easier to train yourself to fall right to sleep. Use these techniques and get in a full eight hours of quality z's! And to live your happiest and healthiest life, don't miss these essential 50 Unhealthiest Habits on the Planet.

Get the Fall Issue

Featuring delicious weight loss recipes, quick and easy sheet pan suppers, slow cooker tips and much more!

Filed Under