The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep every night to lead a healthy life, the NHS recommends.
According to the health service, a long-term lack of sleep can contribute to a multitude of diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s and mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Experts have endeavored to come up with different routines or methods people can adopt to help them fall asleep.
One such technique is called the “4-7-8 method”, an exercise which aims to regulate breathing and help the body relax before bedtime.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the 4-7-8 method?
The most vocal advocate of the 4-7-8 method is American doctor Andrew Weil.
Explaining the technique in an appearance on The Ellen Show, Weil said those trying the technique should begin by making sure the tip of their tongue is touching the tissue at the back of their upper front teeth.
Begin by breathing in quietly through the nose for a count of four seconds.
Hold your breath for a count of seven seconds before exhaling
When exhaling, blow air out forcibly through the mouth for eight seconds, making a whooshing sound while you do this.
Then repeat this for four breath cycles. Weil said that for the first four months, members of the public should do this for no more than four cycles.
When you feel more comfortable with the technique, you can increase this to eight cycles. You should never exceed eight cycles, Weil advises.
Is it effective?
Weil says the method is a “great way” to help people fall asleep at night or fall back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.
He claimed the method can help ease anxiety, lower heart rate, lower blood pressure and improve digestion.
It should be noted that no large-scale study on the effectiveness of this method has been carried out.