Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Breathe Yourself to Sleep

There’s no doubt that television and film are doing a lot to help us through the pandemic. And there’s even science to suggest that cozying up in front of a favorite movie or show can boost well-being. But when bedtime rolls around, the more you can move away from screens, the better.

If you’ve never heard the sleep and sex rule of thumb before (as in, they’re the only two activities you should be doing in your bedroom), now you have. Though experts don’t align on all sleep hygiene tips, most agree that those two health-critical activities are the ones to get used to doing there.

If you struggle with insomnia, breathing your way to sleep is a great method to explore. Learning to work with your breath can be a game changer — in both simple and life-altering ways. It can help you clear scattered thoughts, calm nerves, and even usher in sleep. Ever hear of someone nodding off by accident at the end of their first yoga class? Bingo.

A basic starting point is to slow your breath and pay attention to extending the exhales. Here’s a practice for that. If that alone does the trick, great. If not, consider listening to a guided relaxation — many offer breath-work cues to invite sleep. There’s absolutely an app (or 49) for that. Oh, and fun bedroom fact: As you uplevel your attention to sensation and presence via mindfulness, you might notice that sex improves too.

Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

Senior Platform Editor, Elemental. I write and edit stories about health, science, well-being, and behavior.

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