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The Challenge

How many times have you heard of someone that cannot fall asleep at night and when they finally do have to get up in the morning it is a giant struggle?

Adequate sleep is essential for general healthy functioning. In this article I evidence the effects of chronic sleep restriction on neurobehavioral and physiological functioning, I will discuss also about some useful before to bed breathing practices to prevent insomnia and preparing your body for a better sleep.

Chronic sleep restriction is frequently experienced due to medical conditions, sleep disorders, work demands, social and domestic responsibilities, and life style.

Many of the chronic illnesses that I see in my practice as an EP can be traced back to sleep disorders and the inability to achieve a state of rest. Having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep can set you up for all sorts of nasty conditions and some of the most common ones I see are:

- Chronic fatigue

- Mood and memory issues

- A slower metabolism

- Even reduced immune system functions

If you are like so many people in the modern society that suffer from the anxiety of insomnia caused for example by the blue lights in our devices then there is a big chance that haven’t discovered yet the circuit breaker that you need. This is one of the most common problems that I see in my practice.

All the chronic and preventable health issues find their roots into our modern way of living and not being able to fall asleep at night is a very real problem in our society. Here is the thing, the origin of bad health stem from being tired in the morning, and perhaps develop some bad habits as a response to our state of chronic stress.

If we fell asleep more easily and woke up feeling fresh and rested then there are more chances we will make better choices for our health. And from there, once you’ve made that good choice, you have a positive feedback loop in play. If you feel rested and don’t want or need a coffee first thing in the morning then you are more likely to make a better diet choice and beginning your day with proper nutrition feels good, and when you feel good at the start of the day it is much more likely that will continue on.

The Solution

Hold your breath!

As you hold your breath, carbon dioxide levels increase restoring the physiological homeostasis and the proper ration with oxygen. This helps to decrease the nervous system arousal and leads to a more relaxed feeling which will help you drift off to sleep much easier.

Now it might seem odd to increase your carbon dioxide levels at sleep time, but it is actually a huge myth that everything will be ok if you take a few deep breathe. If you cannot fall asleep or even if you are in pain taking deep breaths can make it worse. The more oxygen you have the more stimulated and aroused you will be, which kinda defeats the purpose of a breathing technique to help you fall asleep!

Your breath affects absolutely everything from your brain rhythms to your posture and the tension and pain you may feel in your body.

What you will find is that if you practice an appropriate breathing technique right in the evening, your body clock will wake you up a little earlier, and when you rise naturally without an alarm it feels really really good. Don't you think?

A breath holding exercise is in my opinion, the quickest way to calm your breathing after a stressful day. A simple technique is to try and increase the amount of time you can hold your breathe until you first desire another breath.

My advice

Lie down on the floor, place a pillow behind your head and underneath your knees.

Take 3 minutes to reconnect with your breathe so slow down your inhalation and exhalation phase.

Stay with that and once you feel that your breathe is more regular at the end of a natural, slow  and long exhalation,  simply hold your breathe.  

Keep holding your breathe until you feel the first clear and distinct desire or discomfort to breathe. On your next inhalation phase try to don’t force your breathe, just breathe in slow and no too deep, let’s say that you wanna breathe in for no more then 4”. Let your breathe just happen.

Repeat this and notice over time you will increase the time interval in which you feel no particular urge to breathe.

Keep going for like 15 minutes.

Remember, on a physiological level, during this holding phase you’re resetting your Co2 sensitivity. As you hold your breathe, carbon dioxide levels increase restoring physiological homeostasis which will help to decrease your nervous system hyper arousal and lead to a happier more relaxed you.

In service,

Marco Tesi