Sleepy breathing

Blogs Sleepy Breathing Image

Us humans sometimes struggle to get off to sleep. Thoughts of the future and the past can keep us wired, hindering the peaceful process of drifting off. Quite often our mind can’t stop. I can say for sure that meditating, exercising, not looking at your phone or eating a few hours hours before going to bed helps. But, in this busy world slowing down and making a bedtime routine can be a luxury. 

Cats and dogs on the other hand seem have no problem at all… they seem to be able to sleep anywhere. It’s because they do not plan or regret. They live here and now, which allows them to go fast asleep whenever they choose.

If you find your mind buzzing when you need to be snoozing, have a go at this very simple breathing exercise. It will focus your mind distracting it from thinking, and trick your nervous system to believing you are asleep. When your body and mind think you are asleep they will stop bothering you, giving you the space to float into the natural healing state of slumber.


  1. Get ready for bed calmly, take your time.
  2. Get comfortable, find your favourite sleeping position.

Finding your “shallow breath”:

  1. Once settled start breathing deeply. Not for long, just a few breaths to feel the range/depth of your breath.
  2. Now divide your inhale into 6 equal parts. Breathe in deeply with 6 equal sips of air. Do this a few times and take note of the size of the first 1/6 of the breath. This 1/6 of your full breath is now the depth of breath until you sleep. It’s a very gentle almost empty breath, we are going to call this your “shallow breath”.

The sleepy breathing exercise: 

  1. Gently, softly and slowly breath in your “shallow breath” to a count of 1… 2… 3… (the pace could be 3 heart beats). Then on the count of 4… release the breath, the breath just falls out of the body, don’t push, just release. Then let the breath hover, do not hold, just pause without blocking your nose or throat. Pausing the breath out for 2 (count 5… 6… in your mind). And repeat.

This is the breathing pattern of deep sleep. Your body will think your mind is asleep, and your mind will be busy concentrating on the breathing & counting in the present moment, reducing its buzzing. If the mind continues to think, ask it politely to come back the sleepy breathing exercise.

If this is not clear, feel free to ask for a demonstration after class.
If this does not work, plug in your EarPods and try my ASMR Sleep Meditation.

By Paul Selvey

Paul has practised Yoga for over two decades and taught Yoga full time for 8 years. With 1000+ hours of advanced teacher training he shapes a mix of movement, breathing, kriya, sound therapy and meditation techniques to suit his students, from beginner to advanced.

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