All four groups experienced positive effects, including reduced respiratory rate and improved mood. However, the breathwork groups experienced greater improvements than the meditation group overall, with cyclic sighing performing the best.
The study also noted that no effect on sleep was noticed in any of the groups, suggesting that longer daily sessions or longer-term studies may be needed to explore how mindfulness could help with catching better zzz’s.
The fact that just five minutes of breathing can replicate—and even outperform—some of the well-studied effects of meditation is a promising finding for anyone short on time or patience.
But if you’re already a committed meditator, don’t feel the need to shake up your practice in favor of breathwork just yet. While this study’s results are promising, research has a long way to go when it comes to measuring breathwork’s long-term effects, as well as its effects beyond respiratory rate and mood. The study’s authors note that they plan to expand the scope of their research in the future.
One of the best things about breathwork and meditation is that you can do either right now at home for free. “If you’re interested in potent stress reduction practices, these zero-cost methods can help,” wrote Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., a contributing author of the study, in an Instagram post.