According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged 18-64 require at least seven hours of sleep. However, finding the time to sleep or actually staying asleep can be a lot harder than it looks. More than a third of Americans suffer from occasional bouts of insomnia and get less than the recommended sleeping time.
So how do we go about getting more, better quality sleep? Yoga!
Yoga is not just beneficial for improving core strength, flexibility, and mental function; it can also help you sleep better. For years, this ancient practice has been used by people to manage their insomnia, helping them fall asleep faster, sleep for longer, and return to sleep more quickly if they happen to wake up before dawn.
How and Why it Works
Many people suffer from sleep issues as a result of stress and anxiety. Practising yoga alleviates some of these negative emotions, which in turn, helps improve sleep. A good variation of yoga that that promotes rest and relaxation through meditation is the yoga nidra or “yogic sleep.” When properly performed, yoga nidra induces the deepest possible state of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness, making it feel almost like being asleep. If you experience a lot of stress or anxiety in your everyday life, yoga nidra may be the key to helping you fall asleep and stay asleep all night.
Of course, other forms of yoga can also contribute in no small measure towards a long and quality sleep. Gentle and rhythmic yoga, along with controlled breathing and stretching can be the perfect way to relax your mind and muscles at the end of a long day. By releasing the stress of the day, you are able to prepare your body for a good night’s sleep and even encourage a more restorative sleep state.
Bedtime Yoga Poses and Routines
If you want to work yoga into your bedtime routine to help you sleep better, here are three poses to consider:
Legs Up the Wall -- Start by finding a wall with ample space on the ground. Lie on your back and put your legs up a wall, keeping them straight, so your body is in an L-shaped pose. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and focus on your breathing as you relax into it.
Lying Butterfly -- Lie on your back on the ground, then press the bottoms of your feet against each other as you let your knees fall out to the sides. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Pay attention to how your body feels and gently relax into the position. If this pose feels too strenuous, try putting a pillow under your knees to absorb the weight.
Corpse Pose -- Lie flat on your back with arms and legs straight, and palms facing up. Then let your ankles roll open and breathe slowly, focusing on your inhales and exhales. You should begin to feel completely relaxed from head to toe as your body holds the pose. Pay attention to how your body feels against the floor and make sure your shoulders are not hunched.
Here is a guided yogic sleep meditation to practice from the comfort of your bed:
Yoga is holistic, helping mind, body, and soul. So don't struggle with inadequate sleep anymore by getting the most of your yoga for better sleep every night.