Eddie* came to see me about a very common problem – insomnia. What he didn’t expect was how easy and simple it was to get his sleep back -simply by counting for four, seven, and eight while breathing in and out.
About a third of us will have recurring periods of sleeplessness throughout our lives. Knowing that you’re not alone might be a comfort but it isn’t of much practical help, and Eddie was beginning to worry about the effects of his insomnia on his job. He had been regularly late for work, and had even rung in sick to try and disguise his over-sleeping, and when he was at work he was making mistakes and finding it hard to concentrate. As is often the way of these things though I’d just been researching a new approach to tackling insomnia – the 478 sleep technique.
“I’m stuck”, he told me “I’m worried about work putting me on a warning and sacking me, but the worry’s just making my sleeplessness worse. Sometimes I only get to sleep just over an hour before the alarm goes off.” It was all too easy to understand how Eddie had got trapped in this vicious cycle of worry and insomnia. What I suggested was that we tackle his insomnia directly, through the 478 sleep technique.
The 478 sleep technique has its roots in the breathing exercises from yoga, and is thought to work because it allows the lungs to become fully charged with oxygen, leading to a more relaxed mental state. Ordinarily people are told to practice the technique twice a day, and that they will see noticeable improvements after four to six weeks. Eddie, however, didn’t feel that he could go on feeling as he did for another six weeks, and was worried about the impact on his job.
I taught Eddie the technique, and asked him to practice it so that I could check that he had it right. Then we went onto using some hypnosis to help accelerate the time it would take him to see the benefits from the technique, and to embed his new habit of practicing it twice a day.
In case you’d like to try the 478 sleep technique for yourself, then there are five very simple steps, and they all rely on you keeping the tip of your tongue behind the back of your top teeth throughout the exercise. First, breathe out completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound. Second, close your mouth and breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Now hold your breath for a count of 7 before breathing out completely through your mouth for a count of 8, making a whooshing sound again. Repeat this three times to make four breaths in total, practice it at least twice a day, and don’t expect to see huge improvements before week six. I’ll be really interested to hear how you get on with it.
*Eddie’s real identity has been protected, and he is happy to share his story.
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