Milonga & sleep

For us, tango dancers, going to sleep in time every day can be a challenge. On these days falling asleep quickly would be useful, but we rarely succeed. It is worth learning a few tricks to help us fall asleep quickly and easily.

To be honest, I write this post mainly for myself, because I often cannot fall asleep for hours after an amazing milonga :)

How can we fall asleep quickly?

Browsing the internet, we may find several tips on how to fall asleep faster, such as drinking warm milk and letting some fresh air in. These are all valid ways to deal with the issue, but in more serious cases, like mine, these tricks may not be enough.

A breathing technique for faster sleep

Just a few years ago, a technique was re-discovered and published by Dr Andrew Weill. Pranayama is based on regulating the breathing, but many people know it as the 4-7-8 method, alluding to the length of breathing in, holding the breath, and breathing out.

When we use this technique, our lungs saturate with oxygen, our muscles relax, and our minds calm down as well. With the more usual shallow breathing, we do not hold the breath long enough, and therefore we use very little oxygen. With this breathing technique we completely saturate our lungs with oxygen therefore we naturally calm our nervous system, decrease the tension in our muscles, and we fall asleep quicker by paying attention to our breath.

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The 4-7-8 breathing technique

  1. Breathe out through your mouth with an audible sigh.
  2. Close your mouth, and breathe in through your nose silently, whilst counting to four.
  3. Hold the breath, whilst counting to seven..
  4. Breathe out through your mouth fully, again with a loud audible sigh, whilst counting to eight.
  5. Breathe in through your nose again, counting to four, and repeat steps 3,4,5 three more times.

It is important with this technique to breathe out for twice as long as you breathe in. It is also important to always breath in quietly through your nose, and breathe out loudly through your mouth.

It is worth practicing the method twice a day, which isn’t only good for sleeping problems, but for relaxation in any situation, as it calms the nervous system.

Here is a demonstration of the method:

This does not strictly belong to the article, but here you can check what your sleeping position says about you:

Enjoy your milongas and sleep well afterwards!