04 Apr 2013

Breathe, Just Breathe

I get asked lots of questions about what works to help with hot flashes. The truth is, the data is sparse and inconsistent. A whole lot of things have been tried (herbs, antidepressants, acupuncture) with varying degrees of success depending on the study design.

However, one technique called paced respiration has been shown to reduce the severity of hot flashes by 44%! No hormones; no side effects.

The “How To”

Paced respiration takes practice. Try to do paced respiration twice daily, for 15 minutes at a time. If you can, when you first feel a hot flash coming on, stop what you are doing, find a quiet place, and practice paced respiration until you are feeling comfortable again.

  • Sit in a comfortable, quiet place.
  • As you breathe, keep your rib cage still. You will be lowering and raising your diaphragm to fill and empty your lungs.
  • Inhale for 5 seconds, pushing your stomach muscles out.
  • Exhale for 5 seconds, pulling your stomach muscles in and up.
  • Repeat this cycle of breathing until you feel calm and relaxed or your time is up.

Why Does it Work?

It’s not clear exactly why paced respiration works. One explanation is that it calms the sympathetic nervous system, enhances circulation and induces a relaxation response which eases the hot flash.

This technique  is one of the first things I recommend to the clients I work with who are plagued by hot flashes and night sweats. You can do it almost anywhere and it’s free. Give it a try!


Dr. Anna Garrett

Comments

  1. […] Try taking slow, deep breaths when a flash starts. Paced respiration has been shown to decrease the severity of hot flashes by 44%. Read more about that here. […]

  2. […] Try taking slow, deep breaths when a flash starts. Paced respiration has been shown to decrease the severity of hot flashes by 44%. Read more about that here. […]

  3. […] Alternative practices such as acupuncture, mindfulness and meditation can also help reduce suffering. And using specific breathing techniques has been shown to reduce hot flashes by 44%. That’s better than any thing else that’s been studied (and it’s free!). Read more on that here. […]

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