1) Take it slow. We know, we know, you already tried that! But not so fast -- many of us don't actually know what if feels like to recruit the diaphragm, abdominals and lungs to take in a full breath, hold onto it for a moment and then gradually let it go. With slow breathing, you'll feel the rib cage expand to let the lungs fill completely, and then fall back into its natural position as you exhale. Lie down in bed on your back and try breathing slowly for 10 minutes before nodding off.
2) Try the 4-7-8 technique.
To relieve your anxious mind, sit up in bed with your back straight, and press the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth. Maintaining that position, close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four counts, hold that breath for seven counts, and then exhale through your mouth around your tongue for eight counts. Repeat this pattern until you have completed four full breaths.
3) Use a traditional meditative breath.
If you find that a busy, anxious mind is your primary sleep destroyer, it may be time to finally give meditation a try. Through her research, neuroscientist and meditation expert Catherine Kerr has found that focusing on the breath is the very first component required in a mindfulness meditation practice. Connecting with the rise and fall of the breath, and noticing where you feel that breath move within the body, can help you begin the process of relaxing tense muscles. This physical change also helps you let any negative or stressful thoughts and emotions come and go as you remain tied to the breath and your body. Complete this breathing exercise for eight to 10 minutes to reap the full benefits each night.
4) Channel your yoga skills.
Try it out by sitting in a kneeling position with your back straight and hands resting on your knees. Take a breath in through your nose and exhale powerfully through your mouth by contracting your abdominal muscles in short, measured bursts.
5) Alternate nostrils!
6) Double down on the exhale.
One more for the yogis out there! Many pranayamic breathing techniques rely on an exhale that is double the length of the previous inhale to inspire calming and restorative benefits. A 2006 study found that this form of voluntary, slow breathing has the ability to help reset the body's autonomic nervous system by synchronizing neural elements in the heart, lungs and brain. . To test it out, lie down in bed on your back, inhale for three seconds, exhale for six seconds and repeat until you've fallen asleep.