Before the advent of the electric light, people lived on a schedule governed by the rising and setting of the sun. Today, most people wake up to an alarm, often without having benefited from a full night’s sleep. For them, falling asleep is difficult.
Here are some statistics:
1. Today, people are sleeping 20 percent less than they did a century ago.
2. More than 30 percent of the population experiences insomnia.
3. Insomnia strikes one in three people during their lifetimes.
4. Over half of Americans lose sleep because of stress or anxiety.
5. Somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of seniors over sixty suffer from insomnia.
6. Women are twice as likely to experience insomnia.
7. About 35 percent of people with insomnia have a family history of the condition.
8. Nine of 10 people with depression also experience insomnia.
9. 10 million Americans use prescription sleep aids.
10. People who are sleep deprived are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese; many will have sleep apnea.
11. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of people have driven while sleepy, and 37 percent have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Sleep deprivation takes a toll on relationships. In one survey, the top reason given by couples for avoiding sex was “too tired or need sleep.” Chronic sleep deprivation also impinges on your work life, reducing productivity.
Chronic sleep deprivation also attacks your health. It puts you at risk for:
1. Heart Disease
2. Heart Attack
3. Heart Failure
4. Irregular Heartbeat
5. High Blood Pressure
Clearly, getting enough sleep must become a priority, but it is often difficult to accomplish. Recently, Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard-educated physician and wellness practitioner, has developed the “4-7-8″ breathing technique. Dr. Weil studies meditation and breathing, and how to use both to counter stress.
The technique is simple to learn and implement. Breathe in through the nose for four seconds. Hold the breath for seven seconds, then exhale for eight seconds. Repeat three more times. This regimen slows down the heart rate and prepares the body for relaxation.
You can also use this technique to lessen stress during your active day. To learn how to do the technique from Dr. Weil himself, watch this video: