What is Moon Breathing and how does it help you fall asleep faster?

Woman performs the moon breathing sleep technique
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you often find yourself still awake and full of anxious thoughts in the early hours of the morning, you may want to try the Moon Breathing method for sleep. This ancient yogic technique has become popular in recent years following its repackaging as a trending sleep hack on TikTok. 

However the internet is crammed full of these so-called miracle insomnia cures, and moon breathing is no exception. While we recommend improving your sleep by making healthy lifestyle changes and investing in the best mattress for your body, that doesn't mean you should otherwise dismiss every viral sleep trend you see on social media. 

As part of Sleep Awareness Week 2024 we'll break down exactly what the Moon Breathing method for sleep is, how it works, and whether it's worth trying to help you fall asleep fast. Plus, we'll also discuss alternative sleep methods and techniques that you could try if you decide Moon Breathing isn't the one for you.

Nectar Mattress:from $349 at Nectar Sleep

Nectar Mattress: from $349 at Nectar Sleep
If you're looking for a new mattress this Sleep Awareness Week, you can save up to 40% on top-rated memory foam and hybrid mattresses at Nectar Sleep. Prices start from just $349, with a lifetime warranty, year's sleep trial and free shipping on all boxed mattresses.

What is the Moon Breathing method for sleep?

First of all, "Moon Breathing" is just a catchy new name given to ancient yogic breathwork known as Chandra Bhedana Pranayama ("Chandra" is Sanskrit for "glittering moon"). The breathing exercise itself is inspired by a Japanese wellbeing method known as Kaizen, and was initially popularised as a sleep method in the book Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time by Sarah Harvey. 

Harvey writes that she uses the method to help clear her mind when she's unable to go to sleep, describing it as "a short breathing exercise that I find helps me when it is 3am and my mind is racing with nonsense thoughts.”

Woman performs ancient yoga breathing technique for sleep

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How does the Moon Breathing method work?

Breathing exercises are often used among yoga enthusiasts as a way to help them relax. Moon breathing is just one of the calming breathing methods in yoga, and that type of breathing can also been known as alternate nostril breathing. 

The method isn't just a bedtime ritual – it can also be used during times when you need to calm your nerves, such as before a job interview or a driving test. 

In her book, Harvey calls the method "a really simple way to quickly quiet the mind and settle your emotions" and recommends using it during moments of stress or anxiety. “It really helps to focus the mind and press the reset button on your nervous system," she explains. 

How to use the Moon Breathing method for sleep

The Moon Breathing sleep method is relatively easy to perform and remember, and can be performed anywhere at any time. It can be done in 5 simple steps:

1. Lie down, drop your shoulders, relax your face muscles, and close your eyes.

2. With your right hand, put your thumb up and curl your fingers into your palm.

3. Cover your right nostril with your thumb and  inhale through your left nostril.

4. Take your right ring finger and cover your left nostril. 

5. Remove your thumb from the right nostril and exhale. Repeat until you're relaxed. 

Close up of a woman performing alternate nostril breathing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How does deep breathing help you fall asleep faster?

If you decide the Moon Breathing method isn't for you, then you can try a number of other sleep techniques, including the Military Sleep method the 4-7-8 method, and guided sleep meditation. All these sleep hacks have one thing thing in common: breathwork.

So why is breathing often an integral part of these sleep techniques? Studies have shown that internal breathing engages our diagram which may set off body relaxation responses,  benefiting mental wellbeing and easing sleep anxiety.   

Frances Daniels
Sleep Staff Writer

Frances Daniels is a Sleep Staff Writer at Tom's Guide and her role includes covering all mattress and sleep news, in addition to mattress reviews and buyer's guides, plus sleep accessories such as pillows and mattress toppers. Frances is a PPA-accredited journalist and is hugely interested in the relationship between good sleep and overall health. When not writing about mattresses and sleep for Tom's Guide, Frances enjoys writing about women's issues, health and wellbeing, the environment, and her native Wales.