By | Mary Grace Garis | www.wellandgood.com
Wouldn’t it be oh-so-delightful if falling asleep were as simple as 1-2-3? Perhaps, but given the stress levels associated with living through unprecedented times like these, many might find conking out to be at least a smidge more difficult. So if you’re being kept up by chronic doomscrolling, the fear of pandemic nightmares, the fear of the living nightmares, or anything else, check out the 3-6-5 method for sleep, which is a meditative breathing technique to be used throughout the whole day. It’s not as simple as 1-2-3, but it’s pretty damn close.
According to Stephanie Gailing, an astrologer and wellness consultant who shares information about the 3-6-5 method in her book The Complete Book of Dreams, many of us rapidly inhale and exhale, with more than 12 breaths per minute—and that’s not necessarily helping our ability to drift off peacefully come bedtime. “It’s been found that slower, more mindful breathing can have impacts on the nervous system, helping to tamp down the activity of sympathetic nervous system, which is often associated with being in [a state of] hyperarousal and fight-or-flight [mode] and activating parasympathetic nervous-system activity,” she says. To wit, the 3-6-5 method uses mindful, slowed-down breathing to basically help the the body chill out throughout the course of the day.
To practice it, commit to doing the practice three times per day, taking six full breaths per minute, and for a total of five minutes. If this sounds similar in spirit to the tranquilizing 4-7-8 technique, that’s fair; the endgame of achieving better sleep by way of reducing stress is the same. But 3-6-5 can be a better option for those who’d rather treat breathwork for sleep as ongoing interval training rather than a right-before-bed sprint. That is, instead of one long session, this method takes three rounds at different levels.