Could 'moon breathing' help you sleep?

"Moon breathing" could help insomniacs nod off. [Photo: Getty]

While for some snuggling in bed is a time to relax and unwind, others dread a night of tossing and turning, unable to “shut off”.

According to Bupa statistics, a third of Britons battle with insomnia.

In the US, 30% of adults struggle to nod off, with 10% battling chronic insomnia, American Sleep Association statistics show.

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Numerous factors could be to blame, with noise, an uncomfortable bed and too much caffeine all making it difficult to fall asleep. For many, the stress of modern life keeps them up while they mull over everything from money worries to work deadlines.

But an ancient yoga technique, known as “moon breathing”, could finally enable bad sleepers to nod off.

The yoga technique involves breathing in through the left nostril and out of the right. [Photo: Getty]

In her new book Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time, author Sarah Harvey describes how breathing in through the left nostril and out through the right could help you slumber.

Insomnaics are encouraged to lie with their eyes closed before using their right thumb to close their right nostril.

After breathing in through their left nostril, they should close it with their index finger and breathe out through the right side of their nose.

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Repeating this for several minutes is said to calm the mind enough to fall asleep.

“Alternate nostril breathing is known as anuloma viloma in yoga,” Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight's sleep expert, told Yahoo UK. “It’s been around for thousands of years.

“The left side of the body is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest system.

“So it makes sense breathing in through the left nostril will activate the part of the body involved in shutting down and resting.

“The right side of the body is connected to the sympathetic nervous system, which is fight or flight. Breathing in through the left nostril turns off the part of the brain that’s constantly ‘yaking’.”

While it may sound farfetched, Dr Ramlakhan insists the technique is “based on science”.

“I’m a great believer in breath work,” she added. “It helps people relax.”

Simply concentrating on something other than your racing thoughts may also be enough to help you nod off.

“Often when we can’t sleep we’ve ‘left the body’ and gone into the ‘mental realm’,” Dr Ramlakhan said. “Just the action of touching your left side brings you ‘back into the body’ again.”

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It could also be a placebo effect, with insomniacs potentially being more likely to nod off if they believe moon breathing will help.

“Telling yourself ‘when I do this it will help me sleep’ is like flicking a switch,” Dr Ramlakhan said.

If you’re still not convinced moon breathing is for you, the medic recommends insomniacs try other simple exercises while lying in bed.

“I often tell clients to wriggle their toes or touch their heart,” she said. ‘It brings you back into the body and out of your head.”

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