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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.

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Department of Performance Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Institute of Psychology, 50933 Cologne, Germany.
Université de Caen Normandie-UFR STAPS, EA 4260 Caen, France.
Department of Psychology, Helmut Schmidt University, 22043 Hambourg, Germany.
University of the Federal Armed Forces Hambourg, 22043 Hamburg, Germany.
Solent University Southampton, Southampton SO14 0YN, UK.
Université de Caen Normandie-UFR STAPS, EA 4260 Caen, France.


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.


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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