The "4-7-8" technique involves controlling your breath for a brief time to encourage falling to sleep faster.

Each number consists of the period of seconds you spend during a certain part of breathing (4 for breathing through nose, 7 for holding breath and 8 for exhaling through mouth).

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.”

I could not find any decisive evidence for its effectiveness or lack thereof.

Has there been any significant research about this technique?

  • 1
    The one thing that all "fall asleep faster" techniques -- from counting sheep to breathing exercises -- have in common is this: They put your mind's focus on the technique, away from whatever thoughts or sorrows are keeping you from sleeping...
    – DevSolar
    Feb 28, 2018 at 10:04
  • @DevSolar - As I said in my deleted comment, it works about as well as counting sheep. Feb 28, 2018 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


A medical doctor with a focus on holistic health, Dr Weil, and an holistic practitioner claims it works in the same article Dr. Michelle E. Gordon says it might contribute to relaxation.

The same Dr Weil repeats the claim in his web site

Aaron Berard, a researcher at Brown University saya

Aaron concluded that “there does not seem to be an obvious link between pranayama and helping people fall asleep. There is plenty of suggestive evidence, in particular the induction of melatonin secretion. From what I can gather, the 4-7-8 method is an attempt to rebrand pranayama as something that isn’t meditative but puts people to sleep“. His final point was that “I do believe there is evidence from pranayama that could help induce a state of calm that may help people sleep, but the primary objective from the 4-7-8 method seems to be based in secondary potential benefits from an already widely known form of breathing exercise.”

Despite a potential bit of miscommunication about the technique's effect on insomnia, there’s one thing I can be certain about – there doesn’t appear to be any reliable evidence that the 4-7-8 breathing method works.

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