Many of us know the frustration of tossing and turning in the middle of the night.
Now a lifestyle guru has shared a technique she swears by for easing the anxiety and calming the ‘nonsense’ thoughts keeping you awake.
Moon breathing, also knows as Chandra Bhedana in Sanskrit, involves blocking the right nostril and breathing solely through the left. Doing so can calms the nervous system, which in turn helps you settle down to sleep, experts believe.
The technique is popular with yogis, who claim it improves the sleep cycle, and it is more commonly used as a calming and relaxation technique in parts of Asia, including Japan.
Moon breathing is a Japanese technique and popular with yogis, which involves only breathing through the left nostril. Woman sleeping soundly, stock image
Sarah Harvey (pictured) looked into the Japanese philosophy of on-going improvement through small changes to your habits
Writing in her book Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time, author Sarah Harvey explains how she has used the technique to conquer insomnia.
‘I find [it] helps me when it is 3am and my mind is racing with nonsense thoughts,’ she says.
The Moon breathing method in three steps
- Find a position most comfortable to you.
- Block your right nostril with your right finger.
- Take deep breaths from the left nostril only for several minutes
It comes after a recent statistic showed that 31 per cent of Brits struggle to sleep, with the NHS handing out 87,990 sleeping tablet prescriptions in one month alone this year.
Another method, called alternative breathing, can also help with overwhelming feelings of anxiety, Sarah explains, by alternating the nostrils you breathe through.
‘This is called « Nadi Shodhana » or alternate nostril breathing and is a really simple way to quickly quieten the mind and settle your emotions, so is a useful exercise to have up your sleeve during moments of anxiety or stress,’ she says.
Moon breathing can help fight insomnia by calming the nervous system. Another technique called ‘alternative breathing’ can help cope with anxiety attacks. Woman meditating, stock image
‘It really helps to focus the mind and press the reset button on your nervous system,’ she adds.
Being one of the most important components of yoga and meditation, breathing has a proven effect on the nervous system.
It was also proven that different breathing techniques had different effects on the body and the nervous system.
A 1994 study by for the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that alternate breathing between the two nostrils could alter the human metabolism.
It showed that men breathing through their left nostrils only, for 27 breathing cycles four times a day, were more relaxed because their sympathetic nervous system activity, which is responsible for response to stress, had reduced.
The Kaizen method, which Sarah discusses at length in her book, is the Japanese on-going improvement through small everyday changes to your habits.
Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time, by Sarah Harvey, published by Blue Bird, is available for purchase.