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4-7-8 Breathing: A Natural Sleep & Calming Aid

Updated: May 16, 2021

Have you been feeling stressed, anxious, or been lying awake at night unable to sleep? If so, 4-7-8 breathwork is a great and easy-to-learn technique to help calm you down within minutes! Dr. Andrew Weil, viewed by most to be the grandfather of integrative medicine, developed this technique as a completely natural way to help you fall asleep and calm anxiety. Read on to learn how to perform 4-7-8 breathwork and the benefits it has!

How to Perform 4-7-8 Breathwork:

Start by getting comfortable! We recommend sitting up straight to allow for deep breaths or lying on your back with your eyes closed if trying to sleep. Rest your tongue against the back of your front teeth on the roof of your mouth. Your tongue should stay here throughout the entire cycle, even when exhaling. Prior to beginning, completely exhale to empty your lungs.

The cycle:

  • Close your lips and breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds

  • Hold the breath in for a count of 7 seconds

  • Purse your lips and breathe out audibly through your mouth for a count of 8 seconds, trying to keep the breath even

  • Repeat the process for up to four cycles

Here are a few additional tips:

  • The more you practice the breathing cycle the sooner you will begin to feel calm when you do it! Because of this, it is recommended to go through a few cycles of breathing each day.

  • If you find it difficult to hold your breath for 7 seconds, you can cut down the technique into cycles of 2-3.5-4 breathing. The important part is that the ratio remains the same!

  • People who practice 4-7-8 breathwork have warned that it may take a while to learn to clear your mind during the technique (possibly even up to 6 weeks). As they say, practice makes perfect, so don’t give up after the first few nights!

  • This technique is designed to make you fall asleep easier, so do not practice the breathing technique before performing any activity that requires you to be fully aware

  • Practice sitting or lying down in case you begin to feel lightheaded

  • You can work your way from 4 cycles up to 8 cycles after ensuring you are not getting lightheaded

  • While purely anecdotal, I find that sometimes just saying 4-7-8 can help diffuse a tense situation, calm the mind and bring a smile to my face


  • Reduced anxiety

  • Decreased fatigue

  • Reduced aggression

  • Improved migraines

  • Reduced hypertension

  • Managing cravings

  • Decreased stress

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