How This *One* Sleep Hack Can Improve Your Sleep Dramatically
A lot of us may be going about our day lacking sleep, thinking that this is normal. We may not be sleeping enough, or we may not be getting quality sleep. And we’re constantly tired, relying on caffeine to power our day.
As you all know, sleep is crucial to regeneration, productivity, and vitality. If we don’t sleep well enough, we will most likely be stressed, and the results on our efforts to boost our health and productivity will not be optimised.
While sleeping pills and supplements may help, I thought there maybe alternative techniques to hack our sleep. I recently had an interview with wellness expert Dr. James Costello. And I wanted to share his one, simple sleep hack with you.
This sleep hack is free and takes only a few minutes daily to implement. Here goes my conversation with James.
Why this simple breathing technique will boost your energy and decrease your stress
Lana: James, can you share with me your tip on improving your sleep?
Dr. James Costello: Many years ago, I was studying with a zen master who had done lots of work in Tibet as a yogi his whole life. He was about 90. The most brilliant guy I ever met. Master Nan in Hong Kong.
As far as sleep, he said, “Tibetan yoga was very explicit about this. It’s just a matter of calming your breath first, not trying to calm your mind to get to sleep.”
Calm your breath. Make it regular. That’s why counting sheep was even good.
He said, “Calm your breath. Just try to feel your body and see where you feel a little bit extra energy or disruption or disharmony, and picture that as a ball of light. And bring that ball of light up to your throat.”
I didn’t care if it took me five minutes or five hours to fall asleep — If I’m breathing deeply and focusing on a warm, pink ball of energy in my throat area, I’m going to fall asleep. And if I don’t, I’m still going to be rejuvenated enough by the time I get out of bed to feel good.
It sounded really bizarre to me, but I started trying it, and it actually worked. I spent a couple sleepless nights with jet lag. I remember one night in San Francisco, I had just got in from Hong Kong, didn’t sleep for seven hours. Counted about 3,000 breaths and felt good when I got up, was good enough to go to seminars the next day. So that’s one little technique to hear today and use tonight.
Ujjayi breathing: Better than sleep supplements?
Also, practising ujjayi breathing daily is very important. Ujjayi breathing is simply breathing deep through your nose into your upper abdomen and letting your diaphragm just relax.
We’re meant to breathe like a five-year-old, who just sits there, and you say, “Breathe deep,” and they start to breathe right into their belly.
So you need a childlike breath and you need to breathe deep into the diaphragm area, then let your chest expand as you’re breathing. If you do that and you slow your breath down to say, even 12 cycles per minute, you’ll find the results of pranayama immediately. This is also verifiable, you can go to the text for this.
If you sit quietly and practise ujjayi breathing for 10 minutes a day, you’re going to instantly decrease your cortisol, stress and C-reactive protein, and increase your feel-good hormones, helping you sleep and function better.
You can do it anywhere, just make sure you’re not going to be disturbed.
That’s the yoga work that you want to do anyway, but it de-stresses you. The first thing I’m going say to anybody that wants to destress is this “We can’t talk about anything till we talk about controlling your breath.”
The breath is the key to everything, because we’re breathing 24–7. We’re breathing all the time; and it’s the number one thing. Of course, you want good clean air, too. That’s why people go to the mountains to become yogis.
Excerpted from The Adaptogen Series on Stress, Sleep, Sex and Health with Dr. James Costello. For the full interview series, click here.
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