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10 Books on Mindfulness Training to up Your Game

1) Mindfulness for Beginners (John Kabat-Zinn)

I first discovered Mindfulness for Beginners as a runner in university. I was fascinated by the idea of training the mind to unlock my potential. Fortunately, Kabat-Zinn’s work taught me that everything we need is already inside. In Mindfulness for Beginners, Kabat-Zinn gives an in-depth explanation of what it means to practice mindful attention in both an informal and formal way. He also gives one of the best operational definitions of mindfulness to start the book. Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as “paying attention to the present moment on purpose in a non-judgmental way.” He later goes on to describe how to practice each component of his definition (paying attention to the present, living intentionally and non-judgmental attitudes) by using stories and gives practical steps to advance your mindfulness practice. What I like so much about Kabat-Zinn is that it takes away the supernatural aspects that people may associate with practicing meditation and focuses on the real and now. This can be summed well by this line from Mindfulness for Beginners:

“The fact of the matter is that meditation is not about navel-gazing or giving up functioning in the world. Nor is it about giving up engaging passionately in projects of real value and getting things done, nor will it make you stupid or rob you of ambition or motivation.” (p. 80)

2) Wherever You Go, There You Are (John Kabat-Zinn, MD)

Wherever you go, there you are is another great book written by Kabat-Zinn. In case you were unaware, Kabat-Zinn started the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction medical model back in the 80s and 90s which has been effective in pain management for several chronic diseases. This book digs into his philosophy and years of practice by giving brief passages to reflect on while practicing meditation. One of my favorite lines from this book talks about how telling people about how you’re meditating kills your momentum and motivation to mentally train. In the words of Kabat-Zinn, “It’s best to meditate without advertising.”

3) Mindfulness on the Go: Simple meditation practices you can do anywhere (Jan Chozen Bays, MD)

After reading the intros to the first two books on this list, you may think, “How  am I supposed to do this? I hate sitting as it is, now I have to pay attention to it?” Well, it’s a lot simpler than you may be imagining or worrying about. Bays wrote this book to give her audience simple, meaningful mindfulness exercises to start doing. These practices would be what Kabat-Zinn considers informal exercises, but the reality is that you must stay present either way. My favorite exercise from the book is seeing how long you can focus on the sensation of your feet on the ground during the day. I do this exercise when I’m on a long run or track workout and things are starting to hurt.Rewire also has some great meditations to help center yourself throughout your day that are quick and informal. One of my favorites is Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing to help center me during the day.  Mindfulness On the Go is packed with different exercises to informally insert present-moment awareness  throughout your day.

4) Slalom: 6 River Classes about How to Confront Obstacles, Advance Amid Uncertainty, & Bring Focus to What Matters Most (Joe Jacobi, OLY)

If you want to read something simple yet profound about learning how to be present during difficult times, I suggest reading Slalom. Jacobi is a distinguished athlete (10x national champion and Olympic Gold Medalist) who understands how to get the best of yourself and others during trying times. I picked up this book earlier this summer as I was beginning to practice open water swimming in Lake Michigan. I was always uncertain about swimming in open water and have had periods of intense anxiety towards it. However, Jacobi’s advice of building what he called an “unlikely collaboration” certainly helped me redefine my relationship with uncertainty and get out of my comfort zone further. Another way I have been deliberately adding obstacles is by adding post-workout Rewire sessions after harder days on the track or in the gym. 

5) The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness (John Yates, Matthew Immergut and Jeremy Graves)

If you have read Mindfulness for Beginners and have made it this far, you’ll be glad to note this book gives an in-depth approach to the use of mindfulness training in your everyday life. The Mind Illuminated is essentially a practical manual for meditation practitioners to guide others through a transcendent experience. What I liked about this book is that Yates and co. talk about how several cultures outside of eastern Asia have their own history of practices that develop a present moment awareness. The authors of this book also go into detail about how to overcome several barriers that may occur as someone goes through a mindfulness practice. I like to read this book more as a workout plan for your mind. You don’t do everything in a single activity and expect to be fully present 100% of the time, right? Neither should you expect that from this book. Rather, this book can take weeks if you’re practicing and trying to troubleshoot different aspects of your mental practice. 

6) Mindsight (Dan Siegel, MD)

Personally, this was one of my favorite books to read throughout grad school, and one that I’m hoping to reread within the next year. In Mindsight, Dr. Siegel goes on to explain what mindsight is- the trainable skill to separate ourselves from our emotional responses. The idea of perceiving the mind as separate from ourselves comes from multiple cultural traditions including the stoics and Buddhists. How we perceive our emotions can change how we react to them. Dr. Siegel goes on to also explain the neurobiological mechanisms that occur when we can “name and tame” our emotions. When we develop this form of attention, we can clearly understand our own responses, habits and take control over our emotional intelligence. 

7) The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance (George Mumford)

Mumford has been a force in the mindfulness training community for decades. If you open his book, you’ll read reviews from athletes at the high school, college and professional level who only talk about the benefits of meditation. In the Mindful Athlete, Mumford digs into the power to stay present and locked in during important performances. It is a power (or rather superpowers) that every athlete has inside of them and only learns to unleash through mindfulness training. He teaches us through his words that mindfulness training isn’t a destination, but a journey. On that journey, you might find greatness along the way. To summarize this, the first few lines of Mumford’s journey can pull anyone into this book for hours:

“Pain brought me to mindfulness, not any desire to reach nirvana or pop out of any chrysalis. It was unlearning certain habits and thought patterns hard-wired in my brain and walking through my pain, rather than avoiding it, that ultimately put me on a joyful journey of self-discovery.”

8) Good Morning, I Love You (Shauna Shapiro, PhD)

This is a book that I’ve gifted to nearly every person I know who has experienced chronic pain. In Good Morning, I Love You, Shapiro retells her story of being a competitive volleyball player whose career was upended by a severe back injury. After a trip with her best friends to study meditation in southeast Asia, Shapiro noticed differences in herself. This led her on a journey to become a clinical health psychologist who specializes in mindfulness training. Shapiro gives meditations to practice for beginners, as well prompts that she has used in her own practice to help her develop her own mental training. 

9) 4,000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (Oliver Burkeman)

These last two books are not focused on meditation training specifically. Rather, they will change your view of reality and teach you what it really means to be intentional. My grandfather always told me that you don’t find time for the things you care about, you make time. In Burkeman’s 4,000 Weeks, he eloquently digs into the fact that are culture of productivity is built upon smoke and mirrors. The fact is that we only have so much time to do something meaningful on this planet and time itself is a reality, not a resource. The most powerful lesson I learned from this was much like a budget, to make you pay yourself first with your time during the day. I usually start with a readiness assessment from Rewire when I finally look at my phone and practice meditation for the first 15-20 minutes of my day.  I’ll let you dig into the rest of the details and have your own epiphany, but if you want something to reinforce your intentional and deliberate practice during the work week, I highly suggest you read this book. If you want more strategies on how to pay yourself first in the morning with your time, I also suggest this post on how to master your morning routine. 

10) This Is Water: Some thoughts, delivered on a significant occasion about living a compassionate life (David Foster Wallace)

Lastly, if you need something brief to help you break out of autopilot, This is Water is just for you. This essay takes about 30-35 minutes to read, but hours of deliberate practice to fully comprehend if you’re like me. Wallace wrote this in a contrarian style when he was asked to give a commencement speech at Kenyon College. The premise of this book is that the young graduates who he was addressing had no idea of what kind of world they were just about to enter after getting into college. So many people live their lives unconsciously in doing mode, that they never contemplate the reality of the world they live in. This is the water that Wallace addresses in his first few lines of the speech. After reading this essay, I hope you begin to understand the difference between living your regular 9-5 lifestyle, that comfortable routine you can shut your mind off in. Instead, I hope you learn what it means to live a meaningful and intentional life by delving into at least one of the few books that I’ve laid out for you here. 


These books are just a guide to get started on developing your own mindfulness practice. I’ll be honest in saying that I’m still working through some of these books as I explore my own meditation practice. I hope these books give you a guide to start thinking about both the philosophy and practical application mindfulness training can play in your athletic careers.

Through mindfulness training, you can develop a powerful mind-body connection which can increase your performances.  Jumpstart your mindfulness practice by using the Mindset Recovery tools provided within the Rewire app and help you track of your mental training.

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Is Athletic Burnout More Than Just Stress?

It could be more than stress – you could be tip-toeing your way to burnout.

Whatever it is, just know that it’s completely normal to feel stressed from time to time.

Do you feel a lack of interest in your sport? Maybe lapses of motivation, increased stress, or little drive to participate or compete in a sport you once loved? If so, you could be experiencing what is known as “athletic burnout.” 

Athletic burnout is described as a lasting experience of emotional and physical exhaustion. It’s often accompanied by a lack of motivation, a reduced sense of accomplishment, and in some cases, the need to withdraw from sporting activity, as stated in a 2007 study.

It’s common for burnout and stress to intertwine, especially in the workplace and in our personal lives. And it’s certainly possible for burnout to find its way into your training. So watch out, burnout stress is lurking around many corners, but there’s a difference between stress and burnout, especially when it comes to sports.

So, this blog post will explain more about stress and athletic burnout – how they are connected and what you can do to better manage your stress levels.

Burnout and stress – where’s the link? 

A good amount of research on athletic burnout suggests chronic stress to be a key driving factor behind burnout. 

The American College of Sports Medicine mentioned the physical, emotional, and academic pressures University and college-level athletes encounter regarding burnout. For example, student-athletes commonly miss lectures, are exposed to social isolation, limited privacy, inadequate recovery, the pressure to perform, the list goes on…

These physical and emotional stressors may contribute to athletic burnout – creating a link between stress and more severe burnout symptoms. Other researchers suggest that burnout is more than a side effect of chronic stress. 

Similarly, world-leading sports sociologist, Coakley, argues that stress is not the cause of burnout – it is a symptom. Other academics also view burnout as a result of entrapment in sports. 

Entrapment occurs when athletes no longer want to participate in their sport, but feel like they have to. This is more common in youth athletes – perhaps continuing to swim or run track to achieve a scholarship or to impress their peers, parents, or coaches.

The integrated model of athlete burnout

Many theories and models have described burnout and its association with stress, entrapment, and personality factors.

Trying to understand the main cause of athletic burnout when there are so many theories and models can be confusing. So, Gustaffson and colleagues created the integrated model of athlete burnout to best represent the many causes of burnout in sport.

Image credit: Gustaffson and colleagues – I’ve linked the paper in the image. I’ll also include a link below to the figure as a png.

The integrated model of athlete burnout takes into account the most popular explanations for burnout in sports. This combined model of burnout helps us better understand how different stressors and other factors out of our control may contribute to burnout, eventually leading to maladaptive consequences such as withdrawal and a performance decline. 

How to identify athlete burnout

There are a few telltale signs of athletic burnout that you should look out for. These symptoms may include:

  • Mood disturbances
  • A lack of motivation
  • Increased stress
  • A decrease in performance

You may also have other symptoms that go beyond stress – a sign that it’s more than a single episode of stress.

What are the side effects of athletic burnout? 

Athletic burnout is unique to the individual. But there are a few common side effects of burnout that many athletes encounter, such as:

  • Withdrawal from sport
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Depression
  • A further lack of motivation

Read our blog post on how to prevent athlete burnout for further tips and actionable strategies to help you beat burnout.

How to treat athletic burnout

It’s not uncommon for athletic burnout to go undetected. Often, athletes do not speak about stress, and how they’re feeling emotionally with their coaches, peers, or even parents. For many athletes, there’s too much at risk. And for others, they don’t know why they’re feeling how they do, whether that’s lapses in motivation, increased fatigue, or one of the many other burnout symptoms.

So, how do you treat it? The main way to overcome athlete burnout is to rest – taking time off from your sport to fully recover. However, you can also manage your emotional fatigue and stress to better understand when you are at a higher risk of burnout.

You may also consider adding stress relief sessions to your daily routine to better cope with stress, increasing relaxation when you need it most, whether after a challenging training session or a long day. If you are reading on mobile, you can complete the Rewire Fitness stress relief session here. On average Rewire users report a 70% decrease in stress after completing a 2 minute session.

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So, the big question: is athletic burnout more than just stress?

Burnout and stress have some correlation. However, whether stress is the cause of burnout or a symptom remains academically challenged. But we do know this: managing your stress, emotional fatigue, and controlling your immediate environment is likely to help prevent burnout. And if you’re looking for immediate stress relief, you may want to check out our blog post on 5-10 breathing

Start using the Rewire Fitness app today for free and begin mental training to help combat burnout and reduce stress.

FAQs

What are the signs of athletic burnout?

Telltale signs of athletic burnout include a lack of motivation, mood disturbances, increased stress, and a performance decrease.

What does sport burnout feel like?

Sport burnout is often described as physical and emotional exhaustion. You may also experience a reduced sense of accomplishment and less interest in your sport.

How long does it take to recover from burnout?

Burnout recovery varies from person to person. It can takes weeks or months to fully recover from burnout. 

References:

Coakley, J., 1992. Burnout among adolescent athletes: A personal failure or social problem?. Sociology of sport journal, 9(3), pp.271-285.

Gustafsson, H., 2007. Burnout in competitive and elite athletes (Doctoral dissertation, Örebro universitetsbibliotek).

Gustafsson, H., Kenttä, G. and Hassmén, P., 2011. Athlete burnout: An integrated model and future research directions. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4(1), pp.3-24.

Raedeke, T.D., 1997. A sport commitment perspective. Journal of sport & exercise psychology, 19, pp.396-417.
The American College of Sports Medicine. 2021. The American College of Sports Medicine Statement on Mental Health Challenges for Athletes. [online] Available at: <https://www.acsm.org/news-detail/2021/08/09/the-american-college-of-sports-medicine-statement-on-mental-health-challenges-for-athletes> [Accessed 8 October 2022].


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New Mindset Recovery Collections for Passive, Guided, and Sleep Sessions

We’re pleased to announce the release of 3 new Mindset Recovery Collections

In collaboration with Rewire athletes and coaches we’ve created these new Elite member mindset recovery collections to provide more tools for managing stress and improving recovery and performance.

This is what the collections look like in the Rewire app:

SLEEP BETTER

Image from the “Sleep Aid” session

The “Sleep Better” collection has been designed to help you improve and optimize your sleep. The collection includes both active and passive sessions to be used prior to sleep, during sleep or to help overcome a poor night’s sleep.

Athlete’s sometimes suffer from a poor sleep due to a number of factors including being constantly challenged with managing a stressful lifestyle between training, work and their personal life. Then there are times when you simply can’t fall asleep or get up after restless night’s sleep and still have to perform, what then?

“I’ve experienced a severe lack of sleep first hand while attempting to summit a 16,000 FT peak in Washington state called Mt. Rainier. After three days of climbing I only had a sum total of 6.5hrs of sleep but then had to get up at midnight for our summit attempt. Since I wasn’t able to sleep what I did instead was play back-to-back 2 Hz Delta Wave Binaural Beat sessions to help support cognitive recovery and restfulness while I lay awake with my eyes closed waiting for the climb. It was a tremendous help that night. Read more about my story here.”

Sun Sachs, CEO & Co-Founder, Rewire Fitness

The Sleep Better sessions include:

  • Wind Down Routine: This guided session takes you through some best practices for maintaining a good sleep hygiene along with guiding you through a 4-7-8 breathing session to help you wind down and prepare for a good night sleep. This session should be used approximately 15-20 minutes prior to sleeping.
  • Sleep Primer: This active session is designed to optimize your mind and body for sleep using 2Hz binaural beats and 4-7-8 breathing.
  • Sleep Aid: If you’re having a hard time falling asleep then this guided session is a great choice to help you relax your body and mind for a good night sleep. The session is designed to be used while in bed to help you fall alseep.
  • Sleep Aid Extended: This session repeats the same exercises as Sleep Aid but with an extended Binaural Beats section to help you drift off to sleep.
  • Sleep Pure Beats: This passive session is designed to be used with earbuds or headphones to help you fall asleep using 2Hz Binaural Beats.
  • Use After a Bad Night’s Sleep: What do you do when you have a poor night’s sleep but still have to perform that day? Use this pure binaural beats session to help make the best of your day. The session can be used while laying down or as you go about your day to help recover your mind and body. (Note this is what I used during my climb).

GUIDED (PASSIVE)

Image from the Increasing Motivation Session

This guided collection has been designed to be used in passive mode without looking at the screen. It contains guided sessions to improve performance, recovery and stress relief.

What if you are simply too tired, don’t have time or are unable to look at your phone’s screen in order to do a mindset recovery session?

“At a recent cycling stage race, I had to compete in 3 back-to-back races in a single day across several disciplines. In between races I only had approx 30 minutes to eat, rest, fix my bike, warm-up and get to the start line. I used these guided sessions to help me ramp down, slow my breathing and get into a restful, recovery state then to ramp back up recharging my mind and body for the next challenge. ”

Sun Sachs, CEO & Co-Founder, Rewire Fitness

The Guided Passive sessions include:

  • Postive Thinking (1 Min): This short guided session can be used during training, competition and other times you need to boost your motivation and self-confidence when you have very limited time.
  • Managing Frustration (1 Min): When frustration is getting the better of you or things are not going your way, this short guided session can help you get your frustration in check and hit the reset button for the next challenge.
  • Increasing Motiviation (1 Min): Need a big boost of motivation to get you over a difficult challenging? This short guided session can be used to increase motivation and promote a confident, positive mindset.
  • Stress & Anxiety Relief (2 Min): When stress or anxiety is feeling overwhelming but you just don’t have the time for a full length mindset session then this short guided session is a quick solution to help you with a calm mind.
  • Physical Priming (2 Min): This short guided session can be used during training, competition and other times when you want to prime your body for performance. (this is what I used to ramp back up after resting between races)
  • Prepare for Competition (4 Min): This comprehensive guided performance session will prepare your mind and body for peak performance. Follow the visualization cues and prompts with your eyes closed.

PURE BEATS (PASSIVE)

This collection has been designed to be used in passive mode without looking at the screen. It contains Binaural Beats at different frequencies for rest, recovery and focus. (Note that these sessions must be used with headphones to work properly).

As you go about your day what can you do to get into the zone, maximize recovery and promote productivity? These 19 individual sessions provide a range of solutions lasting from 2 min to 120 min and can be done while working, training or resting.

“Often throughout the day, when I want to focus on a project or improve passive recovery my go-to solutions are these pure beat sessions.”

Sun Sachs, CEO & Co-Founder, Rewire Fitness

Reference Guide for Pure Beats Passive Sessions*

  • 2.0 Hz – Delta wave for deep sleep
  • 4.0 Hz – Theta wave for meditation/sleep
  • 13 Hz – Beta wave for focus and concentration            

* If you want to nerd out on the science behind Binaural Beats read this full guide here.

The Pure Beats Passive sessions include:

  • Rest sessions: These passive recovery sessions include 2.0 Hz Delta Wave Binaural Beats designed for deep relaxation and recovery. These recovery sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you are feeling drained or short on sleep. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.
  • Balance sessions: These passive recovery sessions include 4.0 Hz Theta Wave Binaural Beats designed for achieving a calm meditative state. These recovery sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you need help getting into a calm mindset. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.
  • Focus sessions: These passive focus sessions includes 13.0 Hz Beta Wave Binaural Beats designed for achieving a focused mental state. These sessions can be repeated as often as needed whenever you need help getting into a focused mindset for competition, training or work. The session lengths range from 2 Minutes to 120 minutes.
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Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief: How to Do 5-10 Breathing

Here’s how a simple belly breathing exercise can help reduce stress.

Do you currently feel stressed or overwhelmed? Maybe you feel an intense pressure at work, or maybe you’ve just had a newborn, you’re not getting enough sleep, and you’re feeling more stressed than ever?

Whatever it is, just know that it’s completely normal to feel stressed from time to time.

Stress is the body’s response to pressure. When we feel threatened, our bodies produce the fight-or-flight response. And while this helps us respond quickly to life-threatening situations, experiencing too much fight or flight in our daily lives can have various detrimental side effects.

But as already mentioned, some level of stress is normal. Besides, it shows you care about your work, family, or other commitments.

So, how do you better control and manage stress? This blog post will explain a type of diaphragmatic breathing and other tips to help you reduce stress and focus on what matters most.

How common is stress?

The Mental Health Foundation reported a staggering 74% of people felt so stressed they were unable to cope and felt overwhelmed. The study consisted of an online poll of 4,619 respondents in the UK.

The reasons for feeling stressed varied. But common causes included:

  • A health condition or health concern
  • Financial stress
  • Appearance and body image stressors 
  • Housing worries
  • Pressure to succeed 

These are just a few of the many stressors found in today’s society. But there are plenty of other reasons to feel stressed.

Maybe you feel undertrained for your first marathon, you feel stressed about riding your road bike on the road for the first time, or perhaps the demands of working long hours into the evening are finally affecting your mental and emotional capacity. 

What are the side effects of stress?

While stress can be useful in small doses, and in the right situations, most of the time, we’d prefer not to be stressed…

You may even find yourself stressing about being stressed – if this sounds like you, then you may benefit from guided breathing exercises for stress relief.

But what are the side effects of stress? According to Mind, If you commonly experience stress, you may feel:

  • Irritable or angry
  • Overwhelmed
  • Anxious, nervous, or afraid
  • Depressed
  • Neglected or lonely
  • Unable to enjoy yourself 
  • Like your mind is racing 

These are just a few of the many side effects. There are also more short-term side effects that you may encounter, such as difficulty breathing, panic attacks, problems sleeping, stomach issues, intense sweating, and more.

Tackling your source of stress is crucial. Maybe that means taking on fewer projects at work, asking for a helping hand, or adding a rest day to your training to unwind and decompress.

You can also try breathing exercises for stress – there are a ton of sessions you can try on the Rewire app.

If you feel stressed and you’re experiencing a mix of side effects that are negatively impacting your day-to-day life, then you might benefit from a visit to a healthcare professional.

Breathing exercises for stress

Breathing exercises, specifically slow breathing exercises, promote comfort and relaxation and reduce symptoms of anxiety, confusion, anger, and even depression, as stated in a 2018 study

Adding breathing exercises to your daily routine can help combat stress.

You don’t need to perform these at the same time every day, either. You can do breathing exercises for stress when you need them most.

Alternatively, you can also try guided meditation and breathing exercises, usually done first thing in the morning or right before bed.

The 5-10 breathing exercise 

5-10 breathing is a form of diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing – this is where you inhale through your nose and exhale out through your mouth.

This breathing exercise for stress relief sends signals to your brain and nervous system to help reduce stress and other emotional responses (anxiety, fear, etc.) . In particular, it’s the long exhale that activates the parasympathetic nervous system (and deactivates the sympathetic nervous system) to calm the body down. It may take a little while to get used to, but with a little practice and the helping hand of our guided session, you’ll be on your way to a less stressful day. 

So, how do you do it?

Inhale through your nose to the count of five and exhale through your mouth to the count of ten. That’s one breath.

Repeat as needed – typically, you want to perform this exercise for at least 2 minutes to feel the full effect.

Benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include improved cognitive performance and reduced stress. It may also lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

It’s a relatively easy breathing exercise to learn and can be done anywhere, making it a great tool for stress relief when you need it most. 

The Rewire mindfulness and recovery protocol for stress relief 

The Rewire app contains a mix of mindfulness and recovery protocols that use breathing exercises and binaural beats to help facilitate certain emotional responses, whether that’s stress relief, improved focus, or relaxation.

We have a few stress relief sessions on the Rewire app, but the guided stress relief session is our most popular session for stress reduction – more on this below. 

Mindset Recovery – Stress Relief

The Rewire stress relief guided recovery session uses the 5-10 breathing technique and 2 Hz binaural beats to help alleviate stress and achieve a calm state of mind. On average, Rewire users report a 70% decrease in stress after a 2-minute session.

It takes less than 4 minutes to do, can be done anywhere, and will leave you feeling less stressed.

If you have Rewire downloaded on your mobile device, tap here to try ‘stress relief’. 

Reduce stress with Rewire Fitness

Rewire can help you combat stress to improve your day-to-day life.
Start using the Rewire Fitness app for free to help reduce stress when you need it most. Take control of your emotional response and improve your day-to-day well-being and stress levels, increasing presence and allowing you to focus on what matters most.


References:

Gerritsen, R.J. and Band, G.P., 2018. Breath of life: the respiratory vagal stimulation model of contemplative activity. Frontiers in human neuroscience, p.397.

Ma, X., Yue, Z.Q., Gong, Z.Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N.Y., Shi, Y.T., Wei, G.X. and Li, Y.F., 2017. The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in psychology, p.874.

Mental Health Foundation. n.d. Stress: statistics. [online] Available at: <https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/mental-health-statistics/stress-statistics> [Accessed 1 October 2022].

Mind. 2022. Signs and symptoms of stress. [online] Available at: <https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/signs-and-symptoms-of-stress/> [Accessed 1 October 2022].

Zaccaro, A., Piarulli, A., Laurino, M., Garbella, E., Menicucci, D., Neri, B. and Gemignani, A., 2018. How breath-control can change your life: a systematic review on psycho-physiological correlates of slow breathing. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, p.353.


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4-7-8 Breathing and 2Hz Binaural Beats for Sleep

Rewire can help optimise your sleep with a mix of breathing exercises and binaural beats – here’s how.

Picture this: you head to bed at a good hour, you turn off the lights, and you’re ready to enter your dreams with open arms. But it doesn’t happen; you continue to lie there until you eventually fall asleep, exhausted, only to wake up feeling more tired than when you want to go to bed.

Approximately 1 in 5 people in the UK are not getting enough sleep, and a further 31% say they have insomnia. That’s a lot of people who struggle with sleep – especially when we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, as stated by the Sleep Foundation, and that’s not counting the time in bed before falling asleep. 

Even if you don’t have issues falling asleep, getting even better sleep is vital – it allows you to wake up feeling rested; it’s when your muscles and body recover after a workout, and after a good night’s sleep, you’re more prepared to tackle the day. That could mean crushing an important meeting at work, or smashing a set of intervals.

So, today, we’re talking about sleep and how to optimise it.

This blog post will highlight two proven methods for better sleep – the 4-7-8 breathing exercise and binaural beats. We’ll also discuss how to add these to your sleep routine with the Rewire app for better overall sleep. 

What is 4-7-8 breathing?

If you’ve tried meditation before, then you’ve likely done 4-7-8 breathing exercises

4-7-8 breathing, also called “the relaxing breath,” alleviates stress and anxiety, decreases fatigue, improves stress management, and, the big one: helps you fall asleep. 

But how does it work? You exhale through your mouth to begin, then close your mouth and inhale through your nose, counting to 4. Hold your breath to the count of 7, then exhale through your mouth to the count of 8. That’s one breath. 

The 4-7-8 breathing technique activates the parasympathetic nervous system – this is responsible for rest and relaxation. When the parasympathetic nervous system is switched on, the sympathetic nervous system (fight vs. flight response) is suppressed. This allows you to better control your body’s response to stress, ultimately helping you fall asleep quicker.

What are binaural beats?

What goes in one ear, doesn’t go in the other. That’s right – we’re talking about binaural beats.

A binaural beat is when two different frequencies are played in each ear to create a perceived third tone, known as the “binaural beat.” Although considered an auditory illusion, the third beat is of a new frequency, and its frequency is the difference between the two beats, for example, if you listen to two beats, one at 200 Hz and one at 204 Hz, the third tone, the binaural beat, will be 4 Hz. Your brain activity starts to mimic that tone through a process of brain entrainment which can facilitate a change in mood, emotion and action. Headphones must be worn to hear a certain frequency (Hz) – listening without headphones will produce a single frequency, and it will not be binaural. 

So, the big question: why should you listen to binaural beats, and what effect does it have on sleep?

Binaural beats have been shown to reduce anxiety, encourage relaxation, induce a meditative-like state, and improve deep sleep. In fact, they’re so effective that binaural beats were found to significantly reduce anxiety in pre-operative patients, as stated in a 2005 study.

It’s important to note the different frequencies of binaural beats. For example, lower frequencies are greater associated with sleep, while high frequencies (13 Hz and higher) are linked to increased concentration, focus, and alertness. 

You can use the right binaural beat (Hz) at different times to facilitate certain states of relaxation, focus, and concentration. 

For more information on binaural beats, we suggest reading out 101 guide to Binaural Beats.

2 Hz binaural beats for sleep

Typically, a frequency of 1-8 Hz is thought to improve sleep. One study investigated the effect of sleep quality on fifteen young elite soccer players. The players listened to binaural beats between 2-8 Hz during sleep. Another group of sports students performed the same protocol but with no beats. Results found an improved perceived sleep quality in the soccer players.

In particular, 1-4 Hz is linked with deep sleep and relaxation – that’s helping you fall asleep quicker and makes sure you get the all-important deep sleep. 

The Rewire sleep recovery session (more on this below) uses 2Hz binaural beats to encourage deep sleep and relaxation.

The Rewire mindfulness and recovery protocol for sleep

The Rewire app has a mix of mindfulness and recovery sessions that use a mix of binaural beats and breathing techniques to help reduce stress and improve focus, whether that means achieving better sleep or simply reducing stress.

For example, you may choose our deep relaxation recovery session, which utilises 2 Hz beats and 5-10 breathing to calm the body and mind after a stressful day. But for the purpose of this article, let’s say you use the sleep recovery session…

Mindset Recovery – Sleep

The Rewire sleep mindset recovery session uses 2Hz binaural beats and 4-7-8 breathing to help you unwind and optimise your state for sleep.

The 2Hz frequency encourages relaxation, and the purposeful 4-7-8 breathing further alleviates stress and anxiety, decreases fatigue, and prepares your body for sleep.

Our users, on average, feel 32% more relaxed after using our sleep recovery session

We recommend implementing a recovery session such as Rewire sleep recovery to get better sleep.  

If you have Rewire downloaded on your mobile device, tap here to try ‘Sleep’.

Get better sleep with Rewire Fitness

Rewire can help optimise sleep by being part of your wind-down routine 30 to 60 minutes before sleeping. 

Start using the Rewire Fitness app for free, and begin feeling more relaxed for a good night’s sleep, eliminating the stressors and anxiety of everyday life so you can wake up feeling rested and ready to tackle the day, whatever that means to you.


References:

Abeln, V., Kleinert, J., Strüder, H.K. and Schneider, S., 2014. Brainwave entrainment for better sleep and post-sleep state of young elite soccer players–A pilot study. European journal of sport science, 14(5), pp.393-402. 

Mental Health UK. 2022. Sleep and mental health – Mental Health UK. [online] Available at: <https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/sleep/> [Accessed 22 September 2022].

Padmanabhan, R., Hildreth, A.J. and Laws, D., 2005. A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery. Anaesthesia, 60(9), pp.874-877.

Pandekar, P.P. and Thangavelu, P.D., Effect of 4-7-8 Breathing Technique on Anxiety and Depression in Moderate Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients.

Suni, E., 2022. How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? | Sleep Foundation. [online] Sleepfoundation.org. Available at: <https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need#:~:text=National%20Sleep%20Foundation%20guidelines1,to%208%20hours%20per%20night.> [Accessed 22 September 2022].

Tindle, J. and Tadi, P., 2021. Neuroanatomy, parasympathetic nervous system. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

Weil, A., 2017. Three breathing exercises. DrWeil. Com.


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