Mindful breathing to ease into sleep

Woman meditating on bed with eyes closed

For this meditation, you’ll exhale twice as long as you inhale. This can help settle your mind and nervous system before you get under the covers.

Let go of your day. Take a deep breath in and out. Now that your body is more relaxed, stretch yourself out long on the floor. Separate your feet, and lay your hands on the floor next to your hips, with your palms facing upwards.

Notice your breath. Don’t change your breathing yet; just take a moment to notice the subtle lifting and lowering around your belly as you breathe in and out.

Extend Your Breath. Breathe so that your exhale is twice as long as your inhale. For example you could count to three on your inhale and six during your exhale. (If that feels uncomfortable, you can change it by counting 2 on your inhale and 4 on your exhale, etc.) The point isn’t to hyperventilate or pass out. You want the breaths to feel comfortable, so that you’ll stay with the practice. The counting will help you stay focused and relax your body at the same time.

  1. Breathe in slowly while counting to two.

  2. Pause for a count of one.

  3. Breathe out slowly while counting to four.

  4. Pause for a count of one.

  5. Once again, “Inhale, one, two, pause; exhale, one, two, three, four, pause.”

  6. Continue to breathe this way. At some point it will feel natural to let the counting go and to allow your mind to rest in the direct experience of breathing.

  7. Eventually let go and just breathe however feels normal to you.

After a few minutes open your eyes and notice how you feel. Slowly get up and crawl right into bed.

Good night!



This copyrighted information is courtesy of Mindful.org and mindfulness expert Cara Bradley.


Reviewed by Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors, including Mark Dreskin, MD, Sharon Smith, LPC, and/or David Kane, LCSW. September 2018.

Mindful, healthy mind, healthy life

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.

Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Summary Plan Description or other coverage documents. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.