Tools to Help with Sleep: Breathwork

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Along with CHOP’s sleep hygiene guidelines, there are several simple, integrative practices that you and your child can do each night to promote a restful sleep. One practice is breathwork which is done by the patient with assistance from a parent or caregiver.

Belly breathing

  • Breathe slowly in through your nose, and then out through your mouth.
  • Breathe in through your nose. Allow the breath to go down into your belly and flow out through your mouth.
  • Notice the way your belly rises and falls when you breathe in and out. If you are lying down you can place a small toy on your belly to see it rise and fall.
  • Let your thoughts come and go. Notice your breath as it enters your nose and travels to your belly (filling it with a sense of calm and peace).
  • Notice your breath bring an even rhythm as you breathe in and out. Focus on your breath. Focus on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with peace.
  • Consider using an aromatherapy sniffer while doing this breathing exercise to increase a sense of peace and relaxation.

4-7-8 breath

You can do this sitting in a chair or lying down. The key to this relaxing breath is making the exhale longer. Don’t worry if you need to speed up the count—just focus on the inhale, hold, and release.

  • Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose for a count of 4.
  • Pause and gently hold the breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale the breath completely through the mouth for count of 8, again making an audible sound.
  • This is one round of 4-7-8.
  • Repeat this breath for 3 more rounds.

Alternate nostril breathing

This is great for older children. It can help to deeply restore and calm your child.  

  • Close your eyes or gaze softly down the tip of your nose. Think about releasing tension from your jaw.
  • Let your left-hand rest on your lap.
  • Close off your right nostril with your thumb. Breathe in through your left nostril.
  • Use your index finger and close off the left nostril. Breathe out through the right nostril.
  • Breathe in through your right nostril while keeping your left nostril closed.
  • Switch fingers. Close off the right nostril with your thumb and breathe out through the left.
  • Start by trying to do 3 complete cycles of breaths in and out.
  • You may add cycles if it feels good. Stop whenever you like. Continue for several rounds.

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November 2022