Sleep deprived but can’t seem to nap? Try this 5 minute exercise to feel rested instead

When I was a new mum my baby was not a great sleeper.  So even when she finally dropped off I found it super hard to fall asleep. I kept thinking she would wake up at any moment and so I felt heaps of pressure to get to sleep really fast – and just ended up more stressed.

This technique was how I learned to combat that – and it saved me from going crazy from sleep deprivation.

It’s a cognitive breathing technique (it isn’t meditation or relaxation as such – I am only sharing what worked for me personally – and now a lot of the mamas I work with)…

This technique is designed to access the same regions of the brain and nervous system that sleep does – even though we are awake.

Here’s the step by step guide –

-Lie down on your back however you’re comfortable – place your hands on your belly just below your belly button

-Breathe in slowly – as you inhale feel your belly rise into your hands, and feel your rib cage expand, keeping your shoulders, chest and neck relaxed

-Hold the breath for 2 counts

-Breathe out and let the belly and ribs sink back towards the floor

– Let there be a natural pause in breathing before you inhale again (otherwise you can feel dizzy)

Counting as you breathe –

On the first breath in this sequence – inhale and exhale for 2 counts, on the second breath – inhale and exhale for 3 counts – and work your way all the way to 10 counts breathing in and 10 counts breathing out

Wherever you reach your limit (whether that is 10 counts or maybe you personally max out at 6 or 8 the first few times) repeat that last breath with the maximum number of counts 4 times

Diaphragmatic breathing brings an increase of oxygen and blood to the cells, which is why it can feel so invigorating afterwards – as though you have had a rest.

It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system – which is our rest and recover state – which is what sleep activates also.

Sometimes I was able to just fall asleep during this exercise anyway – but other times just having something concentrated to do while I was resting enabled me to take my mind off bub long enough to regain some vitality – which I needed! 

Bonus – the diaphragm also stimulates the pelvic floor and deep core musculature so it’s a great way compliment to core strength and rehabilitation. 

If you’re local and want an amazing 5 weeks of exercise specific to post natal physiology – check us out here…  STABILITY TRAINING CLASSES

Meanwhile, happy resting.

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