Breathe! A Challenge to Combat Stress and Sleep Better.
I’ve been focusing on sleep and how tracking it helps me improve my overall health. Something that can help you sleep better is… breathing. We do it automatically all day, everyday. But by focussing on this action and by doing breathing exercises, you can experience a range of benefits, especially when it comes to sleep. My team and I are doing a “Breathing Challenge” this month and will share how it goes! For now, let’s explore breathing…
I recently got diagnosed with sports asthma and have started paying more attention to my breathing. I use the Oura Ring to track my sleep along with the Apple Watch to track my activities during the day. The Apple Watch has this amazing feature that tells me to stop and take some breaths. It vibrates to tell me to inhale and for how long. I’ve been using this for a week, and I love it! Here are some of the positive affects of taking deep breaths, according to Healthline:
- Helps you relax, reducing the negative effects of cortisol (stress hormone) on your body
- Lowers your heart rate
- Helps lower your blood pressure
- Helps you cope with the symptoms of PTSD
- Improves your core muscle stability
- Improves your body’s ability to tolerate intense exercise
- Lowers your chances of injuring your muscles
- Slows your rate of breathing so that it expends less energy
The ability to help you feel relaxed and reduce stress is the benefit that I am most interested in. When I’m stressed, part of the pressure is feeling like there’s no way out. You can’t escape your problems but I’ve found that doing some breathing exercises can actually help you focus enough so that you can get through them, instead of spiralling out of control. And as I’m sure you know, feeling stressed is also terrible for your sleep.
One of my team members, Staci, recently told me about a breath work series that she joined. It was a “Six Weeks of Pranayama” series hosted by Carolyn Cowan. Staci said that different techniques could create different results, some would leave you feeling calm and peaceful, while others could make you feel more focussed and energised. Overall she said she felt more mindful and generally more relaxed after starting the day with intentional breathing. That sounds like a healthy recipe for less stress and good sleep to me. Staci didn’t have a wearable at the time of doing the series, but hopefully we can track and get data results in the future!
This month, me and my team are doing a “Breathing Challenge” as we aim to improve our sleep and health. Please join us at All About Sleep to follow our progress and join in on the challenge too! We’re starting off with a simple exercise and are not venturing into the Wim Hof Method just yet!
Take 20 minutes in the morning and evening to sit down and breathe at your resonance frequency. You’ll need to figure out which one feels best for you. The recommended frequency is a 4 second inhale and 6 second exhale, but this is different for everyone! We use the free app, Awesome Breathing: Pacer Timer to help us set our frequency and time our sessions. We’ll post updates here as we go along and invite you to do the “Breathing Challenge” with us!
I’ve been amazed at how sleep has such a big impact on my overall health, and now I feel the same with how something as ‘automatic’ as breathing can greatly impact our sleep and well-being too. I believe that managing stress is a vital component in better sleep, especially in the uncertainty of our lives today.
All About Sleep
I’m still new to this and would love to hear what breathing exercises you do and how it has helped you! Join our All About Sleep community and let me know. We’ll keep posting our updates and data there as we do a different challenge each month, and invite you to do the same!
If you use an Oura Ring and would like to join us on our journey to better sleep and better health, follow this link!
I hope you take some deep breaths today,