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2 Quick & Easy Sleep “Hacks” to Fall Asleep Now

We’ve all been there before. Laying in bed with your eyes shut trying to sleep but stressing out that you can’t fall asleep. The stress builds up and ends up adding to your insomnia. It’s too late to buy a sleep product or undo any bad habits that could have led to your trouble falling asleep, but we have a couple of quick and easy methods you can use to get some shuteye or get bad to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night.

Sleepy Breathwork

There are a few factors in the way you breathe that can either calm you or excite your nervous system which would keep you awake. The main factors would be your rate of breathing and the depth of your breath.

To calm your nervous system, you should be focusing on taking slower and deeper breaths. There are two great techniques that I recommend that address both of these areas very well.

Box Breathing

This particular trick is part of Navy SEAL training to teach soldiers how to almost immediately calm themselves down. If this can lower the stress and anxiety levels of a SEAL in ice-cold water, it should work well for most people laying in a comfortable bed.

Box Breathing Process:

  1. Start with one long deep breath in, filling your lungs. Hold for a 2-4 second count. Then release the full breath.
  2. Breathe in for a full 4-second count through your nose
  3. Hold your breath for 4 seconds*
  4. Breathe out for 4 seconds from your mouth
  5. Hold your empty breath for 4 seconds
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for as long as it takes to feel the stress wash away

*When you hold your breath, don’t do it in a way that feels uncomfortable. A common reflex when holding your breath is to tense up. Simply leave the air in your lungs and aim for an open feeling around your chest.

You can do this any time of the day that you’re feeling exceptionally stressed out, not just when you’re trying to fall asleep.

This is called “box” breathing because you can use a visualization of a box in your mind to help keep the pace. Picture a square in your head, breathing in 4 seconds while tracing one side of the box, holding for 4 seconds tracing another, and so on.

Use box breathing when you feel that your sleep issues are being brought on by higher stress or anxiety.

4-7-8 Breathing Technique

There is good reason that this is also known as “relaxing breath.” This technique was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Like the box breathing technique, this can significantly calm your mind and body.

4-7-8 Breathing Process:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. This is one breath.
  5. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Personally, I’ve been able to fall asleep in 1-2 minutes trying this out at times.

If you feel you need a timer or some guided instructions, there is a free guided sleep meditation on Kevin Rose’s Oak Meditation app. Something they added to Dr. Weil’s strategy is a mantra of sorts to repeat until you fall asleep if you’re still awake after the breathing exercise…“my day is over, and it’s time to rest.” It just seems to work.

This can help you if you are feeling stressful, but this might be better used than the box technique when you are feeling calm, but need an extra push to fall asleep.

Additional Breathing Tips for Sleep

When you take your breaths, try and breathe using your diaphragm and not your lungs. The easiest way to do this is to focus on letting your stomach rise and fall with each breath rather than your chest. Chest breathing limits you to shorter and shallower breaths that can keep your heart rate up.

Continue to count your breaths after doing any breathing technique. This can help keep you mindful of your breathing patterns to continue slower, deeper breaths. Counting your breaths also gives you something to focus rather than the nighttime thoughts that race through your head at night. Try counting to 10 and alternating counting back from 10 until you’re asleep. 1 count for breathing in, 1 count for breathing out.

Release your stress with each breath. This is something you mentally do that has an immediate physical effect. As you slowly release each breath, imagine the stresses of your day leaving with it. You might just feel yourself melting into your bed.

Relaxing Your Muscles

You might not realize it, but you may be a lot more wound up than you thought. You can be physically holding onto stress in so many different parts of your body that keep you on edge and awake through the night.

Performing a full-body scan is a meditative practice that can help you recognize where you’re unknowingly tense. Noticing these unrelaxed areas makes it easier to let them go and immediately feel a sense of calm.

Performing a Body Scan for Sleep

There are some more advanced versions of a body scan, but the basics here can definitely help. If you want an even more relaxing variation, there a plenty of great guided body scans on YouTube and meditation apps like Calm and Headspace.

  1. Find a relaxed position where you feel comfortable.
  2. Take several deep breaths in, and out.
  3. Starting with your feet, become aware of your toes. Linger on the feeling of each toe for a few moments. Try to notice any sensations as you focus on each.
  4. If you feel any pain or tension, breathe in while focusing on it, and breathe out, releasing the stress.
  5. Focus on leaving the toes relaxed and move to the rest of your foot
  6. Continue the process over your entire body from your feet to the top of your head, making sure to let go of any tension as you work your way up.

If you make it to the top of your head without falling drowsing off, your entire body should be completely relaxed and you should be asleep in no time. If you’re relaxed and not falling asleep, this could be a perfect time to do the 4-7-8 breathwork.

Some common areas you might not realize you are holding stress while performing a body scan:

  • Partly clenched fists
  • Your chest as you squeeze your arms towards your body
  • Your neck if you are pressing your head down into your pillow
  • Your jaw, especially if you are stressing
  • Furrowed eyebrows, especially if you are anxiously pushing your eyes shut

These are just a couple of quick ways to fall asleep at night, or even during the day for a nap. Check out our natural sleep remedies article for more tips on getting better sleep if you want to plan for optimal sleep health.

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Do Positive Affirmations Help With Anxiety

There are many different ways to reduce stress and anxiety, but did you know positive affirmations are used by many to combat their anxiety symptoms? When you are suffering from anxiety, you want a solution that can help you—fast.

Many methods take a considerable amount of time. Positive affirmations are a great way for you to take action immediately towards reducing your anxiety. Read on to learn more about how to use positive affirmations for anxiety today.

What are Positive Affirmations?

Positive journal quote - you're capable of amazing things - Photo by Alysha Rosly on Unsplash

Positive affirmations are intentional, constructive statements or thoughts to promote change and self-love while reducing stress and worry

Social psychologist Claude Steele, the father of self-affirmation theory, recommends that positive affirmations begin with “I” or “my.” This first-person perspective connects positive affirmations more powerfully with your sense of self, making them more relevant and believable.

When you regularly repeat an encouraging and positive phrase, you give it power. In his self-affirmation theory, Claude Steele emphasizes that the more frequently you hear something, the more likely you’ll believe it over time. Positive affirmations can help you change your negative subconscious thoughts. Believing in your positive affirmations makes it more likely that you’ll take action to make your affirmations become your reality.  

The Science Behind Positive Affirmations

Scientific research shows that positive affirmations are beneficial because they activate the human brain’s reward system. Two things motivate human action: needs and rewards. When you anticipate a reward, your brain releases dopamine. Dopamine helps lower your perception of pain and reduce the impact of physical and emotional distress.  

Positive affirmations cause your brain to anticipate a reward: the manifestation of your affirmation. For this reason, social psychologists have prescribed daily positive affirmations for anxiety, body image issues, and other issues as a self-help strategy. Research has shown that positive affirmations are most effective when repeated in a variety of ways on a regular and consistent schedule.  

Many experts have recommended the use of positive affirmations during hypnosis to re-educate the unconscious mind and boost self-esteem. Mental health professionals advocate for the use of positive affirmations on your cell phone set as an alarm or sticky notes posted in high-traffic areas. You must see and repeat positive affirmations regularly and consistently for them to have the best possible effect. 

Be positive scrabble pieces positivity quote - Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplashpositive affirmations -

Claude Steele’s self-affirmation theory argues that it is better to affirm actions rather than what feels good or what may be. For example, it is better to say, “I am going to do well on this test” than “I am smart.” Affirmations that point to a state of being can often bring up unnecessary feelings of shame or guilt. Actionable affirmations avoid these emotions and celebrate the process instead of just the outcome.  

Developed during an empirical study in the late 1980s by Claude Steele, self-affirmation theory is one of the main scientific arguments for the benefits of positive affirmations. The theory has three major tenets, which provide a greater understanding of how affirmations work. These three tenets are:

  1. When we practice self-affirmation, we maintain a self-narrative in which we can be ethical and able to adapt to different circumstances. This narrative makes up our self-identity. With positive affirmations, we feel able to adopt a variety of different roles and have success in each of them.  
  2. Self-affirmation theory contends that maintaining self-identity is not about always being perfect or excellent at everything. Instead, it’s more important that we see ourselves as competent and capable in the areas that we value.
  3. To benefit from positive affirmations and maintain your self-integrity, you must behave in ways that genuinely deserve acknowledgment and praise. When practicing self-affirmations like, “I am an attentive mother,” your end goal by saying it shouldn’t simply be to receive that praise. For a positive affirmation like this to work well, you have to act in ways to deserve that praise by being the most attentive mother you can.  

Practicing positive affirmations offers a variety of benefits, including improving your mood, increasing motivation, and boosting your self-esteem. When you use positive affirmations for anxiety regularly, they can help you address negative thoughts and solve problems with a calmer, clearer head.  

Examples of Positive Affirmations

I know myself.

I respect myself.

I have confidence in myself.

I learn from my mistakes.

I give myself space to grow and learn.


I forgive myself for not being perfect.

I am a unique and worthy person.

I accept what I cannot change.

I make the best of every situation.

I am at peace with who I am as a person.


I value my time and effort.

I support and encourage others.

I put my energy into things that matter to me.

I take responsibility for my thoughts and emotions.

I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Can Positive Affirmations Help with Anxiety?

Positive journal quote - always start your day with a cup of positivitea - Photo by Alysha Rosly on Unsplash

When you affirm yourself regularly and consistently, you improve how you can manage stressful situations. The ability to handle any challenge you may face will better prepare you to work towards a long-lasting change in the management of your anxiety. When you use positive affirmations for anxiety regularly, you help your brain become more resilient.

If you’re considering using positive affirmations for anxiety, you must ensure that your self-talk is grounded in reality and actionable. If you choose statements that aren’t realistic, you will struggle with motivation and self-confidence. Unrealistic affirmations will only make you feel more anxious, incapable, and unsuccessful.

If you’re anxious about money, saying to yourself, “I will inherit a vast sum of money” is not helpful or realistic. When you choose a more realistic affirmation like, “I am deserving of a raise at my current job and have the confidence to ask for one,” you’ll be more motivated to take actionable steps towards making your affirmation a reality. Unrealistic affirmations only stop you in your tracks. 

Affirmations can reinforce your self-worth by encouraging both your positive opinion of yourself and your confidence in your ability to achieve your goals. Positive affirmations mitigate the panic, stress, and self-doubt that usually comes with anxiety. When anxious thoughts threaten to overwhelm you and make it difficult to focus on positive outcomes, affirmations help you regain control, change your negative thought patterns, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety.