Do you regularly find yourself waking in the morning feeling unrefreshed with the night’s sleep you had? You are not alone. Quality sleep is often hard to get these days, with most people working harder and trying to fit too much into their schedule. Electronic gadgets also play a part, causing our minds to be occupied when we finally lay our heads on the pillow. Practicing yoga can promote good sleep in general, as well as teach techniques to help you to relax before bed.
How much sleep is recommended?
Some people seem to be able to function well with less sleep than others. However, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, seven to nine hours is best for adults over 18 years of age. Over 65 year olds need slightly less. So broadly speaking, if you are not getting a solid 7 hours sleep a night, you could be feeling low on energy the next day, irritable and unable to focus.
Living a mindful life
Living a mindful life can help with promoting good sleep. Eating a healthy, fresh, balanced diet, with just small meals in the evening, will help ensure your body is ready to properly rest. Regular exercise too will help you to burn off adrenaline, that prevents good sleep. And, not being connected online every minute of the day allows your mind to rest and prepare for relaxation.
Yoga for sleep – how does it help?
Here are a few ways that yoga can help you to get a sound night’s sleep.
Yoga relaxes your nervous system
An over active nervous system is likely to be the cause for restless sleep. If you have things on your mind, your body will still be on high alert, trying to solve all of life’s puzzles for you.
By practising yoga, it is possible to relax your nervous system through poses and breathing that send blood to your brain’s sleep centre. This helps in general to regulate sleep patterns, although there are also specific poses that can be done prior to bed that are extra relaxing. Try Uttanasana, Halasana or Savasana.
Avoid high energy types of yoga too close to bedtime though, as you may find your body takes a while to slow down following.
Yoga reduces your anxiety and stress
Stress and anxiety is prevalent in our society today. Alongside stress typically comes restless nights and reduced quality of sleep.
The meditative part of yoga helps to quiet the mind and in turn helps to alleviate stress symptoms. Yoga can also help to focus specifically on releasing stress, which avoids it building up and causing wider issues.
If you have had a busy day and are feeling the pressure, some gentle yoga poses before bed can certainly help to send you off to sleep.
Yoga rejuvenates your body and mind
The other benefits of yoga for sleep is that regular practice continually rejuvenates your mind and body. Toxins are eliminated through sweating and more oxygen is pumped around the body from breathing. Stretching also generally calms your muscles leaving you feeling like you have released the tensions of the day.
By keeping your body and mind in good shape you will feel much more energised in the day, and also be able to wind down easier at night.
Make yoga a “before bed” routine
Instead of catching up with posting photos onto your Instagram, or watching the latest series, replace your “before bed time” activity with yoga.
By doing something that doesn’t require any thinking or stimulation, you can clear your mind of any worries and start relaxing.
Make yoga a habit before bed and you should find you are not only sleeping better but also waking up feeling more energised.
Try Balasana (child’s pose), Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose), and Baddha Konosana (bound angle pose) just before hitting the hay.
Yoga Nidra – join a class
Most yoga classes incorporate some meditation or relaxation at the end of the class. However, for the ultimate relaxing type of yoga, go for a Yoga Nidra class.
Search for Yoga Nidra classes in your area