These 5 Easy Yoga Moves Can Help End Your Insomnia
Unless you’re lucky enough to have some secret superpowers that passed the rest of us by at birth, you need deep and restorative sleep to not only function but to thrive.
Heck, chances are pretty good that you’ve experienced the pain of sleep loss at some point in your life, just like the other nearly 60 million Americans with insomnia that can’t seem to get to sleep and stay that way.
For most of us, we simply have trouble winding down at the end of a busy day, and we find ourselves checking email, scrolling through Facebook, or falling down the rabbit hole of yet another marathon Netflix session.
Before you know it, midnight has come and gone, and all of the harmful blue light you’ve soaked up from your electronic devices has thrown a serious monkey wrench into your body’s ability to regulate your circadian rhythm, meaning your biological clock is no longer ticking away as it should and your chance of falling asleep is practically blown.
And that means you’re losing out on the health benefits of getting high-quality sleep, such as increased resilience against stress, improved memory and metabolism, and even your ability to solve problems during your day.
Insomnia also puts you at a greater risk of suffering from depression and anxiety, higher heart rate and blood pressure, and even a negative impact on how you relate to the world. All of this adds up to some seriously good reasons to get better sleep!
Your first step in banishing sleepless nights is to put down the electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. You should also make an effort to create a set sleep schedule and stick to it, with a focus on getting into bed before 11 p.m. each night, if possible.
That all sounds great, you’re probably thinking, but what if you’re already following all those tips and you still can’t seem to get the sleep you need and want? That’s where the power of yoga comes into play…
The Powerful Link Between Yoga and Better Sleep
If your goal is to get sleep that is refreshingly deep, allowing you to wake up with the energy to tackle anything that life throws at you, one of the best things you can do is take a more in-depth look at the practice of yoga.
Although you might think of improving core strength and flexibility when someone brings up yoga, it’s been shown that practicing mindful yoga can also significantly reduce stress levels and increase your chance of better sleep.
In fact, a National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that more than 55% of people who practiced yoga regularly found it resulted in better sleep each night and more than 85% of those surveyed reported lower levels of stress in their lives.
This means that people in almost every walk of life can benefit from practicing yoga on a daily basis, whether they’re corporate ladder-climbing millennials, retired folks over the age of sixty, women in the midst of a pregnancy, or even cancer patients struggling through a round of chemotherapy.
As a matter of fact, so many people have found yoga helps with insomnia, many of them have included the relaxing practice into their nightly routines, right along with showering, brushing their teeth, or making lunch for work the next day.
How Mindful Yoga Can Help You Sleep Better
But what’s behind the connection that links yoga with an awesome night of sleep? There are many ways that practicing yoga before bedtime can lead to some serious benefits to your health and well-being – here are just a few of the biggest.
Yoga Decreases Stress Levels
More than anything else, practicing yoga is going to result in some seriously reduced stress levels. Even if you think you’re not feeling especially stressed, if you take the time out of your busy schedule and truly think about what’s going on in your life, you’ll most likely be shocked to learn how pressured you actually feel.
Stressful events can often hide under the happiest times of our lives, such as getting married, moving into a new house, or starting out on a fresh career path. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t be happy and stressed at the same time!
That’s where yoga helps to keep us calm, no matter what might be going on in our lives, thanks to lowering the level of cortisol (a.k.a. the stress hormone) in our brains, allowing our bodies and minds the chance to relax, and giving us the gift of a night that’s blissfully free from the sleep-stealing frustration of tossing and turning.
Yoga Helps Regulate the Nervous System
One of the biggest problems that insomniacs run into is suffering from what is known as hyperarousal, which is when the body’s natural “fight or flight” response kicks into gear after stress levels are elevated.
If you have insomnia, this can happen to you as you’re trying to sleep, even if the stressor that’s responsible for causing your hyperarousal occurred much earlier in the day. You’ll end up feeling wide awake, even if you’re exhausted from work and other aspects of your crazed schedule.
Practicing mindful yoga in the evening can help you get back to homeostasis faster and easier than almost any other relaxation technique. Soothing yoga poses activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which encourages your body to focus on resting and digesting, as opposed to that insomnia-inducing fight or flight response.
Yoga Encourages Healthy Routines
We’ve already talked about the traditional better sleep advice of creating a set bedtime schedule and practicing optimal sleep hygiene. You know you should turn in and wake up at the same times every day, keep television out of the bedroom, and make sure your sleep environment is cool and dark.
But if you’re an insomniac, those typical tips don’t go as far as they might with other people, and you’re probably looking for techniques that will have a more significant impact on your sleep health.
That’s where mindful yoga comes to the rescue! Adding some relaxing yoga poses to your bedtime routine can help you take healthy sleep habits to a whole new level by encouraging you to actually listen to your body, giving it a chance to know when sleep is coming, which helps to set you up for sleeping success.
Yoga Increases Inner Peace
Many insomniacs find themselves staring at the ceiling each night, thinking about all of the things that need to be done, or worrying about what could have been done better, instead of getting the peaceful sleep that they need.
Practicing yoga before turning in for the night can help you to clear your mind of the past day’s frustrations and concerns while prepping your body for sleep. This will give you the peace and quiet (both mentally and physically) that you need to fall asleep and stay that way throughout the night.
Instead of focusing on what you feel is going wrong with your professional or personal life, mindful yoga can help you to create a clear mental path to better sleep via an uncluttered mind and a completely relaxed body. Talk about having sweet dreams!
5 Relaxing Yoga Poses for Better Sleep
Yoga is starting to sound pretty good, right? If you’re anything like most folks that are battling with sleepless nights on a regular basis, you’re probably already thinking about picking up a yoga mat on your next Target run.
But before you begin a new restorative evening routine, you need to make sure that you’re practicing the right kind of yoga, so your body is eased into a restful state and open to deep sleep, as opposed to becoming energized by a more vigorous type of yoga.
Let’s take a look at some of the best bedtime yoga poses to help get you prepped for a refreshing night of sleep…
1. Supported Reclining Twist
You can cash-in on the health benefits of the Supported Reclining Twist pose when you’re already in bed. Simply lie on your back with both legs bent at 90 degrees. Keep your knees together and let your legs fall slowly to the right. When your legs are stacked and your hips are level, slip a pillow or two between your thighs. Then extend your arms out at shoulder level and move your head to the left. Keep your eyes closed and your abdomen relaxed, focusing on your breathing, and switch sides several times.
2. Supported Half Frog Pose
Another great pose for bedtime is the Supported Half Frog, which can also be done in the comfort of bed. Start by lying on your belly (with pillows under your stomach for support, if desired). Slowly extend one of your legs to the side and bend it at a 90-degree angle at the knee, making sure to keep it level with your hip. Bring your other leg out behind you and keep it straight. Turn your head and rest it on the mattress in the same direction of your bent leg. Make sure your eyes, jaw, and belly stay relaxed. Focus on your breath flowing in through the nostrils and out through the mouth.
3. Child’s Pose
One of the most popular yoga poses for relaxation, the Child’s Pose is also one of the easiest. Simply rest your belly and chest on a couple of stacked pillows, keeping your knees apart and making sure that your big toes are touching. Allow one side of your head to rest on the pillows, keeping your eyes closed and your belly relaxed. You can rest your arms at the sides of the pillows or underneath them. Focus your attention on taking slow, deep breaths through your nostrils.
4. Wind-Relieving Pose
Also helpful for easing painful gas, the Wind-Relieving Pose is a great way to relax at bedtime. Start by lying back on your mattress, with a pillow under your head for support, if so desired. Straighten and extend one of your legs in front of you, while bending the other one toward you, hugging it into the side of your chest near your armpit. Lock your fingers either around your shin or behind the knee of your bent leg. Close your eyes, relax your belly and jaw, and breathe deeply into your abdomen. Hold this position for as long as you’d like and then switch sides.
5. Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Another relaxing bedtime yoga pose is the Reclining Bound Angle. Start flat on your back in bed. Bend your legs and bring the soles of your feet together. Slide a pillow underneath each of your thighs. Place your hands on your belly and close your eyes. Relax your jaw and focus on your hands lifting each time you draw a deep breath into your belly.
Want Even More Tips for Better Sleep?
Now that you’ve learned how yoga is an easy and enjoyable way to relax your way to better sleep each and every night, you might want to take things to the next level by checking out some similar articles that are geared toward keeping your nights peaceful and your sleep as refreshing as possible.