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.


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: <> [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] Available at: <,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.


New Guided Recovery Sessions

New: Guided Recovery Sessions

We’re excited to share our latest update: “Guided Recovery Sessions”! We’ve designed these sessions to navigate you through the process of achieving your desired state while elevating your Mindset Recovery experience. These instructor led sessions will walk you through a complete mindfulness experience with sessions designed for pre-workout priming, relaxation, focus, and stress relief.

We’ve released four initial sessions to our guided library which are featured in our new ‘Guided Recovery Session’ category:

*Please access these links via your mobile phone to be taken to the sessions.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please continue to let us know your feedback at!

If you haven’t already signed up to Rewire, you can experience one of our audio only recovery sessions here:

Join Our Community!

Mindset Recovery Streaks and Recovery Minutes Tracking

In version 1.1, we released an update to our Mindset Recovery system, allowing you to track weekly Mindset Recovery minutes and build a recovery streak to help you on your journey to becoming a more mindful athlete!

To update, just head to the App Store/Google Play Store and make sure you are on the latest version (1.1 or above).

Mindset Recovery Minutes Tracking

You can now set a weekly Mindset Recovery goal by going to Settings-> Mindset Recovery Preferences-> Weekly Mindset Recovery Goal. If you are just getting started with mindfulness, we recommend starting small with a target you will be able to achieve and gradually increasing that goal as you develop a routine around Mindset Recovery.

Do you use Apple Health? If so, simply connect Apple Health to Rewire (Settings -> Configure Third-Party Integrations) to write your mindful minutes completed in Rewire to Apple Health!

Recovery Streaks

Recovery streaks are a count of how many days you have completed a Mindset Recovery session in a row. All you have to do is complete a Mindset Recovery session daily to keep your streak going. Don’t worry – we’ll remind you if you are close to losing your streak. We’re excited to see how high yours can get!

We’d love to hear how you are finding Rewire and what we can improve! If you have any suggestions or want to vote and add feedback on features currently planned or under consideration, please visit our feedback portal.

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#6 – Matt Hanson, Professional Triathlete – Optimizing Cognitive and Physical Recovery

On this episode, the Rewire team discuss with Matt his journey from being a professor in exercise science to now being a professional triathlete competing at the highest level. We discuss the lessons that he’s learned along the way, both as an athlete and a coach, including how Matt is able to prioritize both cognitive and physical recovery whilst training. 

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The Importance of Cognitive Recovery for Athletic Performance

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about cognitive recovery? Unfortunately, the problem is the majority of people don’t think of it at all. It’s already challenging for most athletes to take time from their training schedules to rest and recover physically. It’s even harder for some to be intentional about their cognitive recovery. Cognitive training and recovery are just as important, some may argue more, to an athlete’s performance as their physical training. If not addressed, it could potentially have a negative impact on your performance, whether you’re training for the Olympics or your next pick-up game at the gym. That’s why it’s so important for athletes to be aware of how their physical and cognitive training affects their performance and ways they can successfully address the holes in their training. Luckily, these areas of improvement can be addressed by systems like Rewire. This type of training can address mental fatigue, reaction time, perception of effort, self-talk, etc. 

The effects of mental fatigue have continued to show a negative correlation with physical performance. A systematic review, published in 2019, concluded that “cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance” (D.M.Y. Brown et al., 2019). This continues to support the fact that performing at your highest level isn’t only about what you do physically but how you prepare and take care of yourself mentally. 

Not only does your mental fatigue play a role in how you perform, but the way you think and talk to yourself in those moments affects your performance as well. A study done by Blanchfield concluded that positive self-talk reduced the perception of effort during endurance performance. This study also showed that the subjects that used the self-talk intervention had increased time to exhaustion in comparison to their pre and post-tests (Blanchfield et al.,2014). Again, these types of studies point to the importance of implementing more than just physical training.  

Available research has already shown the benefits of cognitive recovery and training. There are enough interventions and protocols out there to start addressing aspects of it and getting positive results now. That is where programs like Rewire’s mindset recovery system come in. Rewire’s mindset recovery protocols offer guided breathing (including box breathing, pranayama, 4-7-8, and more), use of binaural beats, visualization, self-talk mantras, and subliminal priming. Each of these tools play a vital role in helping athletes, seasoned and novice, get the most out of their training sessions. 

One of Rewire’s guided breathing protocols focuses on box breathing which guides you into inhaling deeply, holding your breath for 4-seconds, then exhaling slowly for the same amount of time and holding again for 4-seconds. This is then repeated several times. This type of guided breathing has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also a technique widely used by the Navy SEALs to stay calm and focussed in stressful situations. Another study showed that this type of diaphragmatic breathing helped to reduce anxiety, as well as reduce breathing rate in as little as eight weeks (Yu-Fen Chen et al., 2016). Implementing this into recovery will help to calm and relax the mind assisting with cognitive recovery. This can have a direct impact on performance by decreasing pre-competition or pre-performance anxiety and increasing performance confidence, thus having a better outcome in performance. A 2020 study that looked at collegiate track and field athletes concluded that when anxiety is decreased and self-confidence is increased, they are able to obtain their “best record” (Liang et al., 2020). This included the athletes hitting the same or better than their personal best in their perspective events. Examining newer studies like this helps to look to the use of relaxation techniques like box or other guided breathing in order to positively affect an athlete’s performance.  

Additionally, Rewire’s binaural beats protocol helps to relax the user and aid in recovery and performance. It works by having the athlete listen to audio sounds that are pre-set to a different frequency in each ear. The brain then interprets that sound in a way that has a favorable impact on the athlete’s mood and mindset. The protocol offers multiple wavelengths that address various areas of improvement for the user. These wavelengths are delta (2Hz for deep sleep, theta for meditation or sleep, alpha for relaxation or dreams and lastly beta for activity. A 1998 study showed that “beta-frequency beats were associated with a less negative mood” (Lane, J.D. et al., 1998). Not only does the use of binaural beats help improve mood, a 2020 study focused on the reducing effect it has on mental fatigue. This study resulted in the music (or binaural beats) group being the “least affected by mental fatigue” (Axelsen et al., 2020). These results were seen in just one day of testing, highlighting the on-the-spot effect of binaural beats. When mental fatigue is reduced, we see that attention can be kept for longer, as well as reaction times not being negatively affected. This results in better performances as mental sharpness improves, along with being able to detect and respond to different stimuli while performing.  

Rewire’s Mindset recovery protocols also incorporate visualization and self-talk mantras. Visualization techniques are used to prepare for readiness when it comes to training, competition or aiding in relaxation.  A review study completed in 2018 in the International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education looked at the effects of imagery on sports performance in over fifteen studies and concluded that imagery (or visualization) adds to physical practice but “can be used as a substitute for physical practice when athletes are not able to effectively practice physical skills such as when fatigued, over-trained, injured or when environmental conditions (e.g., poor weather) prevent physical practice” (Jose et al., 2018). This is a prime example of how you can still train to be your best even if you may not be physically training. 

Likewise, along with visualization, the use of self-talk mantras can assist in optimizing your training. Self-talk mantras consist of repeating affirming and motivational phrases or words in order to increase positive self-esteem or self-confidence. A 2009 study showed that self-talk can enhance self-confidence and reduce cognitive anxiety (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2009). These are imperative to performing at the highest level. It’s also important to note that self-talk also has an effect on how one perceives the level of effort they are giving in a certain task. A study by Blanchfield concluded that self-talk significantly reduced the rate of perceived exertion and therefore reduced the level of perceived effort (Blanchfield, 2014). According to this study, the perception of effort is the “ultimate determinant of endurance performance” as opposed to the actual physiological changes that occur in the body when one is fatigued. Understanding this, we can see that the use of self-talk to push the limits in training will carry over to performance as athletes are able to train longer and harder with this intervention. This further attributes to the benefits of positive self-talk. Rewire offers a variety of pre-loaded phrases to use, and the athlete is also able to add their own personal self-talk phrases as well.  

Lastly, to round out Rewire’s mindset recovery tools, it also offers subliminal priming. This is a technique in which an individual is exposed to stimuli below the threshold of perception (Elgendi et al., 2018). These stimuli can be either visual or audio. Rewire ‘s training focuses on the visual subliminal priming in order to impact the perception of effort, as well as motivation and mood. A study from 2014 looked at the effect of subliminal priming in each of these categories and concluded that the time to exhaustion was most impacted and actually improved with intervention (Blanchfield, 2014). There was a significant improvement in time to exhaustion in the group that used self-talk versus the control group, compared to their pre and post-tests. 

It’s clear that there are a variety of ways that cognitive recovery in athletes can be addressed. Acknowledging the need for it is the first step to performing at your absolute best. Rewire’s Mindset Recovery system helps to provide the action steps in order to reach your best.  

Are you already Rewire Member? If so, just tap the button below to use our Mindset Recovery system. If you’re not a Rewire member, join our community of like-minded individuals looking to Unlock their Ultimate Performance Today!

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Chazz Evans Doctor of Physical Therapy, former NCAA Division I Track and Field Champion, specializing in neuroplasticity. While partnering with Rewire Fitness on neuro performance, Chazz has contributed research on the importance of cognitive recovery. When she’s not working, she loves to eat, workout, and roller skate.


Axelsen, J. L., Kirk, U., & Staiano, W. (2020). On-the-spot binaural beats and mindfulness reduces the effect of mental fatigue. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement4(1), 31-39. 

Blanchfield, A. W., Hardy, J., De Morree, H. M., Staiano, W., & Marcora, S. M. (2014). Talking yourself out of exhaustion: the effects of self-talk on endurance performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc46(5), 998-1007. 

Chen, Y. F., Huang, X. Y., Chien, C. H., & Cheng, J. F. (2017). The effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing relaxation training for reducing anxiety. Perspectives in psychiatric care53(4), 329-336. 

Elgendi, Mohamed et al. “Subliminal Priming-State of the Art and Future Perspectives.” Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 8,6 54. 30 May. 2018, doi:10.3390/bs8060054 

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Mpoumpaki, S., & Theodorakis, Y. (2009). Mechanisms underlying the self-talk–performance relationship: The effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety. Psychology of Sport and exercise10(1), 186-192. 

Jose, J., & Joseph, M. M. (2018). Imagery: It’s effects and benefits on sports performance and psychological variables: A review study. International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education3(2), 190-193 

Lane, J. D., Kasian, S. J., Owens, J. E., & Marsh, G. R. (1998). Binaural auditory beats affect vigilance performance and mood. Physiology & behavior63(2), 249-252. 

Liang, D., Chen, S., Zhang, W., Xu, K., Li, Y., Li, D., … & Liu, C. (2020). Investigation of a Progressive Relaxation Training Intervention on Pre-Competitive Anxiety and Sports Performance among Collegiate Student Athletes. Frontiers in Psychology11, 4023.