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Effect of Physiological Sighs for Relieving Stress

Relieving stress with physiological sighs


Breathing is something we do without thinking, but what if I told you that a simple tweak to your breathing pattern could significantly reduce stress and anxiety?

Enter the physiological sigh. This technique, championed by Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and tenured professor at Stanford Medicine, is a game-changer for managing stress. Let’s dive into the science behind it and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is a Physiological Sigh and How Does it Work?

Understanding the Science Behind a Physiological Sigh

physiological sigh is a specific breathing pattern involving two inhales followed by an extended exhale. This isn’t just any deep breath; it’s a double inhale that maximizes lung capacity, followed by a long exhale that helps offload carbon dioxide. This technique was discovered in the 1930s and has been studied extensively for its benefits on the nervous system and emotional regulation[1][2].

Examining the Role of Andrew Huberman in Studying Physiological Sighs

Andrew Huberman has been a pivotal figure in bringing the physiological sigh into the spotlight. His research at the Huberman Lab focuses on how this breathing technique can combat stress and improve emotional well-being.

Huberman’s work has shown that physiological sighs can act as a reset button for our respiratory and nervous systems, helping to balance the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) branches of our autonomic nervous system[3][4].

The Connection Between Sighing and the Nervous System

The nervous system plays a crucial role in how we respond to stress. When we’re anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and rapid, which can exacerbate feelings of tension. Physiological sighs help counteract this by promoting deeper, more relaxed breathing.

This technique stimulates the vagus nerve, which slows down the heart rate and lowers blood pressure, creating a soothing effect on the body[4][5].

How Can Physiological Sighing Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Exploring the Impact of Inhale-Exhale Cycles on Stress Response

The inhale-exhale cycle in a physiological sigh is designed to optimize the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs. The double inhale ensures that the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) are fully inflated, while the extended exhale helps clear out residual carbon dioxide. This process not only improves lung function but also has a calming effect on the nervous system[6][7].

The Benefits of Mindfulness Techniques Combined with Sighing

Combining mindfulness techniques with physiological sighing can amplify the benefits. Mindfulness encourages you to be present and aware of your breathing, which can help you notice when you’re feeling stressed and need to take a physiological sigh. This combination can be particularly effective in reducing stress and anxiety[8][9].

Practicing Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress and Anxiety Levels

Incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels. Start by practicing the physiological sigh for a few minutes each day. Over time, you’ll find that it becomes a natural response to stress, helping you maintain a sense of calm and balance[10][11].

What Are the Different Breathing Techniques Involving Physiological Sighs?

Learning About Cyclic Sighing Patterns and Their Effects on Stress

Cyclic sighing involves repeating the physiological sigh pattern for several minutes. This technique has been shown to lower stress levels and improve mood. In a study led by Huberman and Spiegel, participants who practiced cyclic sighing experienced significant improvements in their emotional well-being compared to those who practiced other breathing techniques or mindfulness meditation.

Utilizing Neurobiology Concepts to Enhance the Benefits of Sighing

Understanding the neurobiology behind sighing can help you maximize its benefits. The preBötzinger Complex in the brainstem is responsible for generating sighs. By consciously engaging in physiological sighing, you can activate this neural circuit and promote a state of relaxation.

This bottom-up approach to stress management can be particularly effective for those who struggle with traditional top-down methods like cognitive behavioral therapy.

Can Physiological Sighing Improve Respiratory and Mental Stress Resilience?

Physiological sighing can improve both respiratory and mental stress resilience. By regularly practicing this technique, you can enhance your lung function and increase your ability to cope with stress. This can lead to a more balanced respiratory rate and a greater sense of overall well-being.

Exploring the Effects of Extended Exhalations and Double Inhales

How Mindfulness Meditation Utilizes Physiological Sighs for Stress Reduction

Mindfulness meditation often incorporates deep, controlled breathing to induce relaxation. By adding physiological sighs to your mindfulness practice, you can enhance its stress-reducing effects. This combination can help you achieve a deeper state of calm and improve your ability to manage stress and anxiety.

Understanding the Influence of Respiratory Rate on Stress Levels

Your respiratory rate has a direct impact on your stress levels. Rapid, shallow breathing can trigger a stress response, while slow, deep breathing can promote relaxation. Physiological sighing helps to slow down your breathing rate, which can lower your stress levels and improve your overall sense of calm.

Practicing Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress and Anxiety Levels

Incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels. Start by practicing the physiological sigh for a few minutes each day. Over time, you’ll find that it becomes a natural response to stress, helping you maintain a sense of calm and balance.


Incorporating physiological sighs into your daily routine can be a powerful tool for managing stress and anxiety. This simple yet effective technique, championed by Andrew Huberman, can help you achieve a greater sense of calm and well-being.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to practice a physiological sigh and experience the benefits for yourself.

Have an questions, contact me.


  1. The psychophysiology of the sigh: I: The sigh from the physiological …
  2. The Integrative Role of the Sigh in Psychology, Physiology …
  3. The Science of Physiological Sigh: Insights from Huberman Lab
  4. The Science of Sighing – Natural Route Health
  5. Why Do We Sigh and What Does It Mean?
  6. Reduce Anxiety & Stress with the Physiological Sigh – YouTube
  7. The physiological sigh – Dr. Daya Grant
  8. physiological sigh – Ask Huberman Lab
  9. This 5-Minute Breathing ‘Physiological Sigh’ Exercise Kills Anxiety …
  10. ‘Cyclic sighing’ can help breathe away anxiety – Stanford’ SCOPE
  11. Dr. Andrew Huberman on the Physiological Sigh – YouTube

Citations: [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9204854/ [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4427060/ [3] https://psychsolutions.ca/the-science-of-physiological-sigh-insights-from-huberman-lab/ [4] https://www.natural-route.com/blog/science-of-sighing [5] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/i-sigh-a-lot-what-does-that-mean [6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBdhqBGqiMc [7] https://www.dayagrant.com/blog/the-physiological-sigh [8] https://ai.hubermanlab.com/s/cCSj1L7a [9] https://honehealth.com/edge/health/physiological-sigh-andrew-huberman/ [10] https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2023/02/09/cyclic-sighing-can-help-breathe-away-anxiety/ [11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSZKIupBUuc


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