In addition to the breathing exercises in my book, You Can Choose To Be Joyful, I have recently learned this new one that is very effective for getting to sleep quickly.
1. First expel all of the air in your lungs by breathing out of your mouth, making a whooshing sound
2. Then breathe into your nostrils for the count of 4, filling your lungs with air
3. Hold your breath for the count of 7
4. Then expel all of the air out of your mouth for the count of 7 (or longer), again making a whooshing sound
5. Repeat until you feel more relaxed or fall asleep
Make sure you are lying down or sitting in a way that you are supported, because if you’re not used to breathing in this way, you may get a bit lightheaded.
Breathing in through the nostrils and out through the mouth is also a good relaxation technique that can be used throughout the day to combat stress. The recommendation for daytime use, however, is to use a longer out-breath than in-breath. One technique, 7-11 breathing, involves breathing in for the count of 7 through your nose and then releasing the air through your mouth for the count of 11. I found it difficult to get all the way to 11 seconds on the out-breath, but found with a bit of practice, I was able to get there.