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A young Asian woman practices breathing exercises on a mountain.

Scripture-infused Breathing Exercises for Restful Sleep 

On most days, I awake with a sense of optimism for the day ahead—yet that posture often hunches over in defeat by evening. The day becomes heavier as the sun crawls across the sky, unaware of the burdens below. The good intentions I woke up with become wistful ideas carried away on the winds of a demanding day. It seems this overwhelm is a common human experience and a familiar culprit of disrupted sleep. Believe it or not, breathing exercises can help us sleep better.

Despite how the previous day unfolds, God invites us to rest. And He has wired our bodies—specifically our brains—to thrive within specific strategies. These methods include powerful breathing exercises for restful sleep that reign in our thoughts from distraction, helping us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and renew our minds according to Romans 12:2. As we operate within God’s design and gifts of breath, our minds quiet, our heart rates regulate, and we can sleep soundly in His love.  

Exhale Discontent and Breathe in God’s Faithfulness 

I cannot experience restful sleep through breathing exercises alone—they must be infused with God’s Word. Breathing simply unlocks the physical benefits of engaging my brain, which affects my heart posture. The Bible refers to an active focus on Scripture as meditation, yet it looks vastly different than society’s idea of the term.  

A young brown haired woman in a dark jacket practices breathing exercises.

While current culture thinks of meditation as emptying one’s mind, God calls us to fill our minds with His truth and promises. Psalm 1:2 speaks of a person who meditates on the law “day and night.” Psalm 77:12 encourages us to ponder all God’s work and “meditate on your mighty deeds.” 

A practical way to do this is to sit in a quiet space, breathe slowly, and pray through Psalm 23:1-3 while repeating the key phrase, “I shall not want” after each statement: 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. I shall not want. 
He leads me beside still waters. I shall not want. 
He restores my soul. I shall not want. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness 
for his name’s sake. I shall not want. 

This practice reminds us that we do not need to want more hours in a day to get everything done. Instead, at a day’s end, we can trade any notion of discontent or inadequacy as we breathe slowly and consider all the ways He is enough for us. 

Breathe Easily in God’s Creation 

Throughout time, humans have experienced physical and mental restoration in the great outdoors. Perhaps never has it been so crucial as it is now, with much of our lives spent inside. Yet many of those seeking solace in nature are unaware that the settling effect of skies and seas, rocks and trees, is all a part of God’s design—especially regarding trees.  

My most restful sleep always comes after a walk in nature at dusk or evening. This makes sense because God created trees as natural air filters; we could not breathe without them. Through specially designed slits under their leaves and needles, trees take in and hold carbon dioxide while “exhaling” clean oxygen. From science, we understand that clean air improves cognitive function. Unsurprisingly, a walk in the woods does wonders for our mindset!  

This practice doesn’t require a wilderness—walking in the neighborhood garden or park will suffice. The next time a day’s weight hangs heavy on your shoulders, enjoy a stroll around trees at sundown and breathe in fresh air while reciting the I shall not want exercise from Psalm 23 above. 

Listen to a short segment of this Bible-based sleep story from Abide that incorporates breathing exercises to help you settle your body in preparation for sleep. It’s based on Psalm 23:2.

Breathe in God’s Presence 

In Zephaniah 3:17, we discover a powerful promise of God’s presence. Although these words were written to Israel, we can rest in the truth it reveals about God’s character toward us, His children: 

“The Lord your God in your midst, 
The Mighty One, will save; 
He will rejoice over you with gladness, 
He will quiet you with His love, 
He will rejoice over you with singing.” 

If our minds race before bedtime, we can sit in silence and solitude while breathing deeply and reflecting on God’s presence, including these truths: 1. God quiets us with His love. 2. God rejoices over us.  

God’s love and delight bring us to a quiet place where we can breathe easier and rest in His presence. 

For more help to stress less and sleep better, check out the Abide app, where our 400+ Bible-based sleep stories all exist to help you experience the peace of Christ and get better rest. Use this link for 25% off a premium subscription, giving you access to all our sleep stories plus much more. 

Eryn Lynum is a certified Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, and podcaster. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband, Grayson, and four children.