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J Clin Med. 2019 Feb 6;8(2). pii: E193. doi: 10.3390/jcm8020193.

Influence of a 30-Day Slow-Paced Breathing Intervention Compared to Social Media Use on Subjective Sleep Quality and Cardiac Vagal Activity.

Author information

1
Department of Performance Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Institute of Psychology, 50933 Cologne, Germany. s.laborde@dshs-koeln.de.
2
Université de Caen Normandie-UFR STAPS, EA 4260 Caen, France. s.laborde@dshs-koeln.de.
3
Department of Psychology, Helmut Schmidt University, 22043 Hambourg, Germany. hosang@hsu-hh.de.
4
University of the Federal Armed Forces Hambourg, 22043 Hamburg, Germany. hosang@hsu-hh.de.
5
Solent University Southampton, Southampton SO14 0YN, UK. emma.mosley@solent.ac.uk.
6
Université de Caen Normandie-UFR STAPS, EA 4260 Caen, France. fabrice.dosseville@unicaen.fr.

Abstract

Breathing techniques are part of traditional relaxation methods; however, their influence on psychophysiological variables related to sleep is still unclear. Consequently, the aim of this paper was to investigate the influence of a 30-day slow-paced breathing intervention compared to social media use on subjective sleep quality and cardiac vagal activity (CVA, operationalized via high-frequency heart rate variability). Healthy participants (n = 64, 33 male, 31 female, M = 22.11, SD = 3.12) were randomly allocated to an experimental or control group. In the experimental group, they had to perform slow-paced breathing for 15 min each evening across a 30-day period. This was administered through a smartphone application. The control group used social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp) for the same duration. The night before and after the intervention, their CVA was assessed via a light portable Electrocardiogram (ECG) device, and they had to fill out the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire. Results showed that in comparison to the use of social media, the slow-paced breathing technique improved subjective sleep quality and increased overnight CVA, while a tendency was observed for morning awakening CVA. Slow-paced breathing appears a promising cost-effective technique to improve subjective sleep quality and cardiovascular function during sleep in young healthy individuals.

KEYWORDS:

cardiac coherence; cardiac vagal tone; deep breathing; high-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV); neurovisceral integration model; parasympathetic nervous system; respiratory sinus arrhythmia; slow breathing; vagal tank theory; vagus nerve

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