For most of us, bedtime is the perfect opportunity to unwind, relax and recharge our batteries. For others, it’s a challenge with many of us unable to shut off, leading to long periods of insomnia and sleepless nights.
According to BUPA, around 30% of Brits struggle to get a good night's sleep.
Being unable to get those all important eight hours of sleep each night is not only detrimental to our physical health, it’s also leads to constant tiredness, irritability, poor concentration and the inability to focus on our daily work.
Getting the right amount of quality sleep is also important as it helps our body to function properly and allows it to rest and repair. The majority of us need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night in order to feel refreshed and ready to start the day ahead.
There are many reasons why we may have trouble getting to sleep at night including worrying about relationships, personal finances, work deadlines, too much caffeine, noisy neighbours, an uncomfortable mattress and of course, smartphone addiction.
If you are one of the millions of people who struggle to get a good night's sleep, you may want to try an age old Japanese technique commonly known as ‘Moon Breathing’.
How to Moon Breath
Moon Breathing isn’t some kind of new fad, it’s been around for thousands of years and used by Yoga practitioners and meditators looking for ways to still the mind.
Author Sarah Harvey in her book ‘Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time’ describes how breathing in through the left nostril and out through the right can help us get to the land of nod that little bit faster.
She says, "For the times when you can’t sleep, I am going to share with you a short breathing exercise that I find helps me when it is 3am and my mind is racing with nonsense thoughts.”
Moon breathing is easy to do. Simply lie still with your eyes closed and then using your right thumb, close the right nostril.
You then breathe in through the left nostril and then close the left nostril with your index finger and breathe out through the right nostril while gently regulating your breathing.
So, in through the left, out through the right. Simple.
Repeat this gentle, deep breathing exercise for just a few minutes. This should then help you to clear the mind, switch off and fall asleep within a short space of time.
This particular method of breath control is called Anuloma Viloma or alternate nostril breathing.
The science behind Moon Breathing is that the left side of our body is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion.
By breathing in through our left nostril we activate the part of the nervous system, which is involved in shutting down and resting, in turn switching off the constant chatter, which keeps many of us awake.
The technique is also beneficial as it allows us to gently concentrate on something else other than our racing thoughts.
Moon breathing is not only excellent for getting a good night's sleep, it can also be used if you are anxious or in a stressful situation.
So there you have it. If you’re having trouble sleeping give it a go.
Image source: Public Domain Pictures