What is the 4-7-8 Method?

4 Min Read | By Ellen Conning

Last Modified 23 October 2023   First Added 13 October 2023

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Struggling to catch those elusive Zzzs at night? You’re not alone. Whether that’s due to anxiety riding high, or simply an inability to feel restful, there are lots of people in the same boat.

Enter the 4-7-8 method, a simple yet intriguing technique that has gained traction in the world of relaxation and sleep improvement. If you’re on the hunt for a natural way to drift off into dreamland, this method might just be the breath of fresh air you need.

What is the 4-7-8 method?

The 4-7-8 method is a specific breathing technique involving timed measures to bring about a calmer state. Also known as the “relaxing breath”, its advocates claim that it can put you in a state of complete relaxation, sending you swiftly off to sleep.

Here’s a rundown of how to it:

  1. Breathe out through your mouth, creating a gentle whooshing sound.
  2. Whilst counting to four in your mind, breathe in silently through your nose.
  3. Hold that breath for seven seconds.
  4. Release the breath through your mouth, making a soothing whoosh sound, whilst counting to eight in your mind.
  5. Repeat this sequence until you’ve done it four times in all.

This technique isn’t brand new; it has its roots in pranayama, a yogic practice focusing on breath regulation. However, it stepped into the mainstream spotlight thanks to integrative medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil, who popularised it back in 2015, when he introduced the world to the technique on his popular YouTube channel.

A woman sleeping on a blue background, with earphones in.

Why is this method popular?

This simple breathing exercise has caught the attention of many, popping up in online spaces as a potential remedy for sleep struggles. While originally gaining popularity as a method to help manage anxiety, with many reporting better quality of life after its use, it has also gained popularity as a sleep technique.

Considering our very own sleep survey found that 18% of respondents only get up to 4 hours asleep during the night, it’s no wonder people are willing to try sleep techniques such as the 4-7-8 method.

Anxiety and sleeplessness are often interlinked. Many people who suffer from one condition also experience the other. This means that methods which tackle one will likely gain popularity among those struggling with the other.

The 4-7-8 technique is one of these and has even done the rounds on TikTok. Videos on the topic have reached nearly 30 million views, alongside plenty of praise for its effectiveness.


Having a hard time falling back to sleep? Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. #sleeptok #sleeptips #insomnia #breathingexercises #insomniatok #fypシ

♬ original sound – Sleep Doctor

In a world where bustling minds find it challenging to wind down, the 4-7-8 method joins a growing list of ingenious sleeping hacks alongside the military sleep method and cognitive reshuffling.

Does the 4-7-8 method work for sleep?

As with any technique aimed at improving sleep, individual experiences may vary with the 4-7-8 method. It’s generally considered safe to try, but newcomers might experience some light-headedness initially. The effectiveness of this technique often improves with consistent practice, with some studies finding that it can improve heart rate variability and blood pressure over time.

There are also the deep breathing benefits to consider – many find that these practices invoke a relaxation response, something that helps counter the fight or flight that comes with anxious thoughts. In turn, this can help you rest at night.

The more you incorporate this technique into your sleeping routine, the more your body and mind can adapt to it. Some individuals find combining this method with other relaxation practices, such as progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness, enhances its impact.

Discover more snooze-worthy tips

As you venture on your quest for better sleep, remember the 4-7-8 method is just one tool in the arsenal of sleep aids. Don’t hesitate to explore other strategies to find what works best for you. Experiment with sleep schedules, try out some herbal teas, play some calming games. Discovering the perfect sleeping hack for your body and mind will ensure you go to bed knowing that you’re in for a peaceful slumber. It may just take a trick or two to get there.

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