Trying to get a good nights sleep is nearly impossible if you suffer from some form of chronic pain, so we've put this helpful breathing exercise together to help you when you've run out of sheep to count.
Deep Breathing: Step by step
Almost everyone can benefit from practicing deep breathing, only people with metabolic acidosis and who suffer from diaphragmatic cramps should abstain from practicing.
Now that we have a better understanding about deep breathing and why it’s so important, let’s do a short exercise so that you can gain awareness of the bodily sensations that take place during deep breathing.
First, I would like you to assume a comfortable position, this can be either sitting or lying down. Now I would like you to place one hand slightly below your belly button and the other one slightly above it. The goal of this exercise is that you identify the 3 areas that are involved when you engage in deep breathing. These are: the lower abdomen, the upper abdomen and the chest.
Before we start It is important to note that your breathing should be slow and natural, at no time should you feel that you are forcing any part of your body. The purpose of this exercise is that you gain awareness of your body and your breathing pattern. If something feels uncomfortable you should stop and adjust so that you can continue the exercise. If you experience light-headedness or dizziness during this exercise, then take a break and breathe normally until that sensation is gone.
Let’s begin, we will do this in 3 steps:
Step 1: The goal will be for you to direct the inhaled air to the lower part of the lungs. In order to do this, I would like you to take a deep breath and in so doing only elevate only the lower part of your abdomen. Notice how the hand placed below your belly button moves as you do so. Now breathe out…
Step 2: we will try to engage the lower and middle part of the lungs. On your next inhale I would like you to direct the air first to the lower abdomen raising the hand below the belly button and then to the stomach, noting that the hand placed above your belly button moves as well. Try to do this step a couple of times to ensure that you identify both movements…
Step 3: Now that you have practiced these two steps, we will try to engage all three areas: lower abdomen, stomach and chest. Keep your hands above and below your belly button and on your next inhale, try to move the air to the first to the lower abdomen, raising the hand above your lower abdomen, then move on to the stomach, noticing how your hand above your belly button rises as the stomach expands with air; and finally, feel how the remaining air fills and expands your chest. Notice how involving the chest influences your body posture… Very good, now as you slowly exhale notice that this action produces slight sound as the air leaves your lips…
Excellent, now repeat this last step a couple of times until you can maintain a deep breathing pattern that feel natural. Try not to practice this exercise for more than 2 continuous minutes. You can always return to this exercise if you feel that you need to practice the basics of deep breathing.
Note: In 2020 I worked alongside three academics who helped build a CBTI sleep therapy app for me.
The three were Achilleas Pavlou who is currently a Lecturer in Psychology and Clinical Communication Skills at the University of Nicosia Medical School. Tania Karina Garcia Vite BSc Psychology, MsC Sleep Disorders. Dr Nicholas Cooper Senior Lecturer Department of Psychology University of Essex.
The sleep series is thus based on that collaboration...