Many of my clients have sleep apnea, have trouble falling asleep, wake up too early or wake up tense and anxious. This is a concern because a quality night’s sleep is core to optimal self-regulation and productivity. I like to think of masks, machines and medications as last resorts.

I highly recommend a book called “BREATH: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor. It expounds upon the benefits of improving our nasal breathing over mouth breathing and the effects on our daily functioning. Nasal breathing improves oxygen delivery to the body, has a relaxing effect and reduces blood pressure. It can prevent tooth decay.

If you have trouble breathing through your nose, see an otolaryngologist to assess any obstruction and explore possible solutions. Ask your dentist if he knows colleagues who take special interest in sleep problems.

Until then, to help you fall asleep, and assuming that you can breathe through your nose, try:

Lying on your back inhale slowly through your nose for 4 counts (counting in your mind), hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale slowly for 8 counts. I like this method as the internal counting replaces worrisome or racing thoughts. Or, try the basic 5.5 counts inhale and 5.5 counts exhale. You may find that after a few minutes of practice you are dozing off to sleep.

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