Odd working hours, lack of physical activity, too much screen time, and irregular sleep habits – can all contribute to sleep deprivation. In today’s world, when we try to thrive on competition, performance, and perfection, we often face an insidious increase in stress and anxiety, which eventually leads to insufficient rest for our body.
Now is the time to question yourself – is your body getting enough rest? Are you getting a full eight hours of sleep? We couldn’t agree more that sleep is our welcome respite. Even a single day of sleep deficit could lead to illness, increased anxiety, reduced insulin sensitivity. But, unfortunately, we can’t make up that deficiency by sleeping extra the next day.
A study published by the Sleep Medicine journal stated that clinical insomnia was increased to 37% among adults in China after the pandemic outbreak.
Even I, personally, experienced the pain of tossing and turning the entire night due to sleeplessness. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with insomnia, and after multiple trips to the doctor, I started trying some alternative therapy and yoga.
Not only my personal experience, but numerous studies have also shown that yoga can significantly reduce the amount of time spent awake at night.
How Does Yoga Help You Sleep Better?
How could a bit of physical exercise and breathing techniques help us to sleep better? Within just a couple of months of practicing yoga, we can wean off the medicines. Here’re different ways yoga can help you improve your sleep quality.
1. Yoga reduces stress and anxiety
These days, stress and anxiety have touched all age categories and contributed to several chronic diseases. One of the primary reasons for stress is the cortisol hormone (aka the stress hormone). Regular practice of yoga can reduce cortisol levels in the brain, which can lower stress and anxiety.
2. Yoga increases mindfulness
Mindfulness is a practice of living at this present moment with judgment-free awareness. This is the standard practice for most types of yoga. Time and again, we have seen that mindfulness significantly enhances the body’s melatonin level and reduces sleeping problems at night.
3. Yoga regulates the nervous system
Practicing the deep breathing technique is another common yoga element that helps activate our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). This way, yoga helps induce sleep and stay asleep.
4. Yoga helps to create a regular exercise routine
Frequent movement is essential for sleep hygiene. By practicing yoga, we learn to be self-disciplined and create a routine – to be active by doing a moderate level of exercises, which helps to improve overall sleep.
5. Yoga can contribute to weight loss
Though losing weight may not be the main objective for some yoga practitioners, certain yoga types help burn more calories, leading to significant weight loss. Now, weight loss can eliminate various sleep problems such as sleep apnea.
5 Effective Yoga Poses for Better Sleep
Yoga emphasizes body-mind connection. Practicing some yoga poses in the morning or before going to bed can help you establish the link. For example, here are 5 restorative yoga poses for better sleep.
PRECAUTIONS: For the best result, you should carefully follow breathing techniques and timing as experts suggest. Moreover, before starting any yoga, you should keep certain things in mind. If you are not careful, yoga can cause specific injuries to your wrist, lower back, hamstring, neck and knees. So, it is advisable to do yoga under supervision. For severe yoga injuries, it’s better to consider professional physiotherapy if you want to wean off the side effects of taking drugs.
So, let’s get ready for a better sleep tonight by practicing these yoga poses:
1. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Lie on your back, bend your knees to a particular angle so that you can reach your hands towards your big toes. Hold your big toes using a toe lock. Then, gently open up your knees and hips by widening your legs towards the bed. Your head, neck and entire spine should remain flat on the yoga mat. Enjoy doing this pose for five deep breaths.
2. Supported Child’s Pose (Salamba Balasan)
Place a pillow on the yoga mat. Then roll up a blanket and place it on the pillow for more height. Now, spread your knees a little wider so that you can cling to the edge of the pillow. Now keep your belly on top of the blanket. Next, place your hands on the blanket in a tabletop pose. Now, rest your chest and abdomen on the pillow and blanket and relax. Hold this position for around five minutes.
3. Legs-up-the-wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Lie on your back while lift and extend your legs and then hips against the wall. Your body should be in an “L” shape or 90-degree. Relax both your arms at your sides. Now, breathe deeply for 10-15 breaths.
4. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Sit up with your knees bent and press the soles of your feet towards each other. First, sit with the spine straight and take five deep breaths. Then, if your body allows, fold forward over your legs, keeping your spine long and collar bones spread. Stay there for an additional five deep breaths.
5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This is usually the final pose of yoga practices. Lie down on your back with your legs straight. Place your arms long at your sides and palms up. Relax your whole body, close your eyes and focus on your breath.
Sleep ties so strongly to our well-being that we must make getting sound sleep a priority for ourselves. Promote better sleep with yoga so that you can enjoy better physical and mental health. Again, if you have any concerns or queries about your yoga practice, consult a yoga instructor. Since yoga is not a direct substitute for medical treatment, you may consult your physician about a treatment plan for persistent sleep disturbances. Similarly, you can consider certified physiotherapy treatment for effective recovery in a drug-free way for any yoga-related injuries.