Yoga For Sleep: 5 Ways Yoga Can Help You Sleep Better Tonight
Until I wasn’t getting a good night’s sleep, I didn’t realize just how important sleep was for functioning. Sure, one night of sleeplessness can be fixed with coffee, brisk walks, cold air, and maybe a nap if you’re lucky. But constant lack of sleep? It’s called sleep debt, the feeling of always being tired, and according to the National Sleep Foundation we spend up to one-third of our life asleep, but most of us don’t prioritize our zzz’s properly.
Here’s how Yoga can help you fix that:
1. Yoga helps you relax
Whether you attend a class or practice at home, doing yoga forces you to take time out of your day to breathe, stretch, and flow. You release tension you were holding in your body, and force yourself into the present. Sure, your mind might still be thinking about a million things, but your body is focused on the mat. Doing yoga right before bed will help you relax and will prepare your body for sleep.
2. Yoga helps to quiet your mind
It’s not always easy to forget about your day and focus on your practice, but if you try linking your breathing to your flow, and repeat a mantra or affirmation as you go, then your mind will begin to quiet down along with your body. This is perfect if you’re stressed or anxious, as it helps stop those racing thoughts from keeping you awake at night. Devote a little time to the mat before bed and you’ll feel calmer and less worried about falling asleep.
3. Yoga soothes aches and pains
If body aches are keeping you awake, yoga might be able to help. There are so many different sequences that target specific areas of your body – like hips, back, neck and shoulders – which could be keeping you awake at night. Try incorporating some gentle stretches into your day, and you’ll feel the difference at night.
4. Yoga makes you happy
You don’t have to pound the treadmill to get the exercise induced endorphin rush that will improve your mood, as yoga is a gentler, low impact alternative that will still make you feel good. And all of the health benefits that come with yoga, including better quality of sleep, are also working to combat a lot of mental health issues (like anxiety and depression, for example). If negative thoughts are keeping you awake at night, yoga is a positive way to fight back.
5. Yoga helps you breathe
Shallow breathing is often associated with stress and anxiety. It’s our body’s natural reaction, and most of us don’t even realize that we’re doing it. But focusing on taking deep, even breaths can lower our heart rate, banish anxious breathing, quiet the mind, and relax the body: exactly what you need to sleep. And combining it with yoga, breathing in and out as your move from pose to pose, makes you more aware of how your body is feeling, and will help you work on your lung capacity too. Most yoga classes start and ending with breathing techniques, but here’s one of my favorites: inhale for a count of five, hold the breath for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Do this for a few rounds before some gentle stretching, and you’ll feel ready to drift off to sleep in no time!