Here's a breathing technique for better sleep- tonight!
My partner, Chipp, has trouble sleeping. He has always been a light sleeper, mixed in with bouts of insomnia. He has tried lots of things at my suggestion, melatonin, teas, regulating bedtimes, cutting out naps. Some things work for a while, some things work sometimes, but nothing was working consistently. Have you ever experienced this? The feeling that certain weeks out of the month you sleep fine, but other weeks you can’t sleep no matter what you do?
I made an observation early on in our relationship: he wakes himself up. When it’s bedtime, he often falls right to sleep, but the first snore or the first twitch will bring him right back to wakefulness. And he was a super twitcher! Have you ever noticed this in yourself or others? Jerking and twitching as you fall asleep isn’t uncommon, and it can complicate things when you are trying to get a good night’s sleep. Chipp was constantly jerking himself awake right as he was falling asleep and he didn’t even realize it.
Sleep is a mysterious and incredibly important part of our brain function. We need sleep to survive, and the more sleep we get the better our mood, focus, immune system, appetite, and stress levels. We need to get our sleep! If you are able to fall asleep but feel like you wake up soon after, you could be waking yourself up, either with a snore, or with a twitch.
This is a complicated problem! It’s one thing to wrap your brain around trying to get a better night’s sleep, but it’s quite another to figure out how to get your body to stop involuntary twitching as you drift off. Chipp stumbled upon a solution to the twitching by accident. He started doing a breathing exercise called nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, before going to sleep, because he was having a bad week of sleep and trying new things. He slept great the first night after doing the breathing exercise and I noticed something else- he wasn’t twitching! He has done the exercise before bed every night since and his sleep has improved drastically. He is on week 3 and the improvement in his energy and moods are noticeable. Good sleep changes everything!
Maybe you remember Chipp from the Kitchen Yoga video, he is a yoga teacher, as well as a long time practitioner. Different breathing techniques are used in yoga to help with all sorts of problems. This is a great one to start with, especially if you would like to get better sleep. Here’s how to get started:
You can sit up in bed cross legged, or lay down.
Start by taking a few long, deep breaths in and out of your nose.
Now take the thumb of your right hand and use it to cover your right nostril.
Slowly inhale through your left nostril.
Pause briefly at the top, then switch your thumb to cover the left nostril and breathe slowly out of the right.
Now inhale slowly through your right nostril with the left still covered.
Switch your thumb to the right nostril and exhale slowly out of your left.
Repeat for about 10 rounds.
When you inhale and exhale, it helps your focus to count. Start with a count of 4 and work your way up to 6 or 8. Let the breath lead the count, not the other way around, as you calm down, your breath will get longer and slower. When you have a full breath in, pause briefly at the top only if it feels comfortable. Don’t clench your breath in, make it a calm pause.
If you would like to see the video of me demonstrating this breath, click below and you can watch it in my group for Chefs and industry related health discussions, or click here to watch it on the Industry Health page.
Need to have a bigger conversation about sleep?
I know how important sleep is to our minds, bodies, lives, and careers. If you are not getting the sleep you need, chances are you are feeling the consequences. Sleep problems are multifaceted and can stem from several places in our lives all at once. One of the areas that we cover in the Chef Power Program is sleep, and we get to the bottom of what is going on so that you can sleep like a baby.