It was the week before my best friend’s wedding, and my anxiety (nerves, plus excitement) had reached epic levels. I wasn’t sleeping, to say the least. Part of that had to do with the maid of honor speech I would be giving. I was terrified and could not shut my brain off to fall asleep at night.
After day three of lying awake until the wee hours of the night, I sheepishly admitted to her that I was too nervous to fall asleep, and she—the bride, who was sleeping like a baby the week before her own wedding—told me I needed to try the “4-7-8” breathing trick.
She happens to be a licensed wellness practitioner who studies meditation, stress, and breathing techniques, and told me it would change my life. You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. She explained that the studied combination of numbers has a chemical-like effect on our brains, and would slow my heart rate and soothe me right to sleep that night. “It works,” she told me. “It’s crazy.”