According to scientists, nearly half of us are not getting enough sleep. Apparently we can’t unwind, we have hormonal insomnia, we’re sleeping on the wrong mattress, we stay up too late, our spouse snores, we snore, or all of the above. You could make a list as long as your arm, of reasons why people can’t fall asleep or stay asleep.
So of course I was delighted to hear about a new trick that helps you fall asleep in less than a minute! It’s called the “4-7-8” breathing technique, credited to Dr. Andrew Weil. The idea is this: You breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.
Sounds simple enough, right? I decided to give it a try. St. Bob and I climbed into bed, then I pulled the covers up and inhaled, silently counting to 4. Now I held my breath. But at five seconds my lungs were burning, I was sure I was suffocating, and I released my breath in a giant burst.
“That’s not how you do it,” Bob said. “You have to exhale more slowly.”
“Except that I’m choking to death over here, and had to exhale fast so I could get another breath,” I said. “That, or die.”
Even in the dark I could hear Bob rolling his eyes. “Try it again,” he said.
Once again I inhaled slowly. 1-2-3-4. And now I held my breath for 7 loooong seconds. But there was no way I could take 8 more seconds to exhale—that would mean a total of 15 seconds without oxygen. A person could asphyxiate.
So I exhaled all at once. “Are you kidding?” I gasped. “How is this relaxing? I’m working up a sweat just trying to stay alive.” Well, that and keeping the numbers sorted out. “This is like being water boarded. And we all know that is not relaxing in the slightest.”
Seriously, if someone held your head under water for 15 seconds you would be in a full blown panic, right? Okay, I would be in a panic.
By now I was having a hot flash and had to throw off the covers. “My heart rate is twice what it was when I got in bed,” I snarled. “How am I supposed to fall asleep when I’m choking over here?”
“I notice it keeps others from falling asleep as well,” Bob said.
“Are you telling me you could fall asleep, knowing your wife was being smothered right beside you?”
“How can someone smother themselves?”
“By following this ridiculous sleep trick,” I said. “Who did they test it on—deep sea divers who can hold their breath forever?”
“Just take deep breaths,” he said.
“That’s how people get hyperventilation and end up in the hospital,” I said.
“Then breathe into a paper bag.”
“I don’t have a paper bag.”
“Then pull the covers over your head.”
“I’ll pull the covers over your head.” This resulted in a wrestling match, at which point neither one of us felt sleepy. So I resorted to my old method which never works for me, but which works beautifully for Bob: Just zip it, Joni.
Or you could read. Not that my novels will put you to sleep, mind you. But you can order them (cheap!) right here. And take a look at the new music video on the home page, while you’re there!