Arrive at your sweet dreams using the ultimate 4-7-8 technique…or was it 4-4-8? 

Why hello insomnia, my old friend…

Any fellow insomniacs out there who repeat a similar mantra when you find yourself lying wide awake hours after the lights went off? It’s a chronic problem that’s plagued me since 8th grade, with the most hellish period during my last year of college. I’ve tried in vain to find a pattern, whether it’s a change in diet, lack of exercise, too much screen before bedtime, but by all accounts the spells seem to come on entirely arbitrarily–and typically last for more than one day at a time. Sometimes I wonder if the condition is a direct consequence of staying up too late in middle school to catch the latest episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho or Outlaw Star on vintage Adult Swim and somehow eternally messing up my circadian clock…

None of the common natural remedies seem to work either, including melatonin or valerian root tea (which smells like the essence of wet dog to me). Therefore, my curiosity was immediately piqued when I saw that a simple breathing technique was trending on Japanese Twitter for those who have trouble falling asleep. Could this somehow overlooked trick be the missing piece to my puzzle?

▼ Not even joking–major life goals are captured in this photo

Twitter user @ad_career28 posted the original message that went viral, as shown below:

“I found the ultimate lifehack on Twitter called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, hold your breath completely for 7 seconds, then breath out through your mouth for 8 seconds. I was able to fall asleep in an instant after repeating this set three times. Try it out while thinking that you’ve been tricked. No matter how much of a night owl you are this technique will make you sleepy in an instant.”

This tweet was immediately followed by a barrage of replies, including the following post by @chorararara who sparked a debate over the correct number of seconds necessary to execute the technique:

“I know that the 4-4-8 breathing technique is popular but this is the first I’ve heard of the 4-7-8 one. It definitely seems like those who try it out for the first time would conk out from a lack of oxygen. LOL

It seems to be effective to concentrate on inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds, then exhaling for 8 seconds. If you do it multiple times your parasympathetic nerves will take over so you’ll be able to temporarily calm yourself from frustration and relax ^_^”

Meanwhile, others demonstrated their support for the merits of using any breathing technique to become sleepy:

“My friend told me about this before and it really does help put yourself to sleep, LOL

After becoming a working member of society, I’ve further realized the importance of getting a quality night of sleep!”

“I tried it out at work and got drowsy.”

▼ OK, maybe work isn’t the best environment to test it out in…unless your full-time job consists of catnapping.

Other net user reactions were mixed, with some sharing gratitude and others expressing doubt about the technique’s legitimacy:

“Cool, thanks! I was out super fast.”
“I was finally able to clear out my nose after trying this trick.”
“I tried it out but absolutely nothing changed.”
“It didn’t work for me, but rather playing video games got me sleepy.”
“I’d prefer to learn about a breathing technique to wake me up!”

So how’d the techniques pan out in real life for myself?

Last night, as I closed my eyes and tried to ready myself for sleep, I counted slowly to four, then held my breath for a count of seven…and then realized that I really, truly suck at holding my breath.

▼ I hope I never find myself in a situation like this because the odds don’t look good.

Despite the lack of oxygen, the counting forced me to focus on only one thing and I was at the very least able to clear my head. Perhaps that’s what meditation training would also be like…? After struggling through a couple of sets of the 4-7-8 technique, I then switched to the 4-4-8 one and found it much more natural. It didn’t immediately knock me out, but I did fall asleep shortly thereafter, which in my book is a success.

Even so, I won’t stop wishing that someday I’ll be reincarnated as a cat.

Source: Twitter/@ad_career28 via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso 1, 2, 3