Sleep Better: 4-7-8

Sleep Better: 4-7-8

Sleep Experiment

Week #1:

The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Welcome! It’s time for week #1 of our sleep experiment! For this post, we’re looking at Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique. I tried out this technique for about one week and have recorded the results below.

I made a list of my thoughts and experiences from each day, but also have a good summary in the Conclusions section below in case you want to skip ahead. 

The Basics

This is a breathing exercise meant to help your body relax and fall asleep quickly.

  • Inhale for a count of 4
  • Hold for a count of 7
  • Exhale for a count of 8

For more info, follow the link in the header.

Day 1: 12/30/2015

I’m getting to bed super late, which isn’t good, because after several days of vacation, I head back to work on Monday. It’s vital that this sleep experiment works, so that my circadian rhythm won’t be entirely jacked up upon returning to work!

I have heard that this breathing technique is supposed to work very well, but I have never tried it myself. I have to admit I’m a little skeptical, but who knows? Let’s give it a whirl!

Let's Go For It!

Thoughts Before Starting

  • I’m not wearing makeup in that picture above. Scary!
  • Is this really gonna work? And will anyone ever read this post?
  • Why did I stay up so late???

Thoughts the Morning After

Well, it’s morning now…


So, I actually really enjoyed this sleeping technique! It worked fantastically. I fell asleep fast and stayed asleep, for the first time in months. That means I’m alead a huge fan and there’s hope for my circadian rhythm!

Day 2: 12/31/2015

Happy New Year’s Eve! I’m trying to get to sleep before midnight, which is lame, but this year I just want a low key night to cuddle with the pooch and hide under a bunch of blankets! Except… I’m not tired yet… but I’ve just got to get my sleep schedule back on track before returning to work on Monday.

Here goes nothing!

Disappointments While Testing it Out

  • My ears started ringing and I don’t like it….
  • The novelty of this technique has already worn off, after just one day. Endlessly counting numbers in my head until I fall asleep doesn’t sound appealing.

Thoughts the Morning After

I did NOT sleep all the way through the night…. I feel rested, yes, but not as well rested as yesterday. Bummer.

Day 3: 01-01-2016

Happy 2016!

I’m gonna take a hard pass on the breathing exercises tonight. I’m just not feeling it. Sorry everyone!

Day 4: 01-02-2016

I’m back home (after the holidays) in my own bed now. So thankful! I mean, I love being with my family, but I also love my bed, and I love my cat!

2016-01-06 20.56.54

Thoughts While Falling Asleep

Yep, I’m already frustrated with this breathing technique…. I’m just tired of counting!

I also noticed something interesting. I don’t want to make myself relax…. Have I been stressed out for so long that now I’m used to it and don’t want to feel relaxed? What’s up with that? Or am I still just in a funk? I’ll have to ask Jesus about that later.

Day 5: 01-03-2016

I had fun dying my own hair before heading to bed. Then I feel asleep and my sleep was gooood!

Thoughts in the morning:

I slept better last night than I have in a really long time! I did the breathing stuff, yes, but I also took a hot shower (to wash out the hair dye). Normally I shower in the morning. This makes me really excited for next week’s topic: Bathe Before Bed.

Day 6: 01-04-2016

Yeah, it just didn’t happen today….

Day 7: 01-05-2016

I did try out the breathing technique again today, but it didn’t seem to help. Bummer.


All right. We have now completed week one of the sleep experiment! Below are some final thoughts and then I’d love to hear from y’all in the comments section!

  • For the most part, the exercise really did help my body physically relax. Especially on that first night!
  • The counting can be a great distraction! Normally bed time is when I strugfle the most with racing negative thoughts. I found that my mind had no room for these negative thoughts because it was too busy counting.
  • Counting over and over again every night is not for me. I really just got sick and tired of it….
  • I had a problem with ringing in my ears.  I have had ringing in my ears for about as long as I can remember. I guess that means I have tinnitus. For the most part, I rarely notice the ringing anymore, since I’ve just gotten so used to it. But as I used the 4-7-8 breathing technique, the ringing seemed to get louder. I don’t know why.

Main Take Away:

The technique really did help my body physically relax in preparation for sleep. However the repetitive counting and loud ear ringing were too disruptive for me, counteracting the benefits of the technique.

Personally, I think I’ll only pull on this technique as a last resort on those nights when I have a bad case of racing thoughts.

I hope you have found this post helpful in your journey toward successful sleeping! I realize more and more how important of a coping method sleep can be, when done in a healthy manner. I’ve noticed that the lack of sleep is probably the number one aggravator of my depression and anxiety symptoms. Therefore one of my goals for this season is to get at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night, in order to improve my mental and emotional functioning during the day.

Join us in one week for the next installation of our sleep experiment!

The topic will be “Bathe Before Bed,” looking at whether a warm shower right before bed helps with falling asleep.

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