Insomnia and the lack of restful sleep are growing concerns across the world. Without proper sleep, the body produces more cortisol and other stress hormones that affect health and wellness.
Conventional Insomnia Treatments
The conventional treatments for insomnia and sleep problems revolve around the use of over the counter or prescription sleep medications.
According to WebMD, the side effects of such treatments can encompass daytime drowsiness, balance impairment, dry mouth, mental fog, problems with memory or focus, changes in appetite, dizziness, and other adverse effects.
Due to the side effects and issues that come with taking these medications for sleep problems, people are turning towards alternative methods for better sleep.
Yoga happens to be one of the most popular alternative treatments for insomnia and sleep problems.
Yoga Promotes Better Sleep
Yoga is a growing natural method for promoting better sleep and for treating insomnia. While virtually any form of exercise can help promote sleep, yoga is the best practice as it provides stretching and relaxation that induces sleep.
Yoga is gentle and it offers the benefits of physical activity and the mind-body ideal. The poses are designed to relieve tension, elongate and tone your muscles, and soothe stress.
More recently, scientific research reported that yoga is interconnected to sleep. Ancient yoga practitioners are ideal examples of this fact. Performing yoga helps insomnia, sleeping habit issues, and stress.
The National Sleep Foundation advocates the practice of yoga for insomnia and sleep problems. They promote restorative yoga styles like hatha and nidra, which are specifically designed for relaxation and sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation also reports that adults between the ages of 18 to 64 require between seven and nine hours of sleep. However, about 40 percent of Americans fail to get the recommended number of hours of sleep.
A restorative yoga practice involves stretching and movements that promote relaxation.
How Does Yoga for Sleep Work?
Almost instantaneously, you will reap the benefits of restorative yoga. When you perform the appropriate poses, your cortisol, a stress hormone, will be reduced almost immediately. This happens when you are concentrating on being overdoing, which is known as the mindful mode.
Quiets Your Brain
Yoga helps with physical and mental health. The breathing exercises performed during yoga movements link together your body and mind. As you let go of daily stresses and relax, you quiet your brain, resulting in better sleep.
Creates the Ideal Bedtime Routine
Establishing a new bedtime routine to include yoga is how you get to enjoy a good, restful night’s sleep. Turn off the television, focus on being, and flush away the stress of the day. It is also recommended that you use energizing/waking yoga as part of your morning routine to start your day.
Eases Discomfort and Pain
Many people suffer from headaches, back pain, muscle stiffness, joint pain, or other discomforts and pains after a long day at work, or from daily activities at home.
Perhaps you have resigned yourself to cope with it, but you can do something about it. Yoga, in general, is a practice that aids in enhancing your strength and mobility. It gently engages your core and eases those aches and pains of the day.
Regulates Your Nervous System
Feeling stressed and tense at work (or home) tells your body to activate the “fight or flight” response, which is one of the ways you stay awake even though you are exhausted. Yoga brings that to a halt and allows you to relax and stabilize your nervous system.
How Can You Sleep Better Practicing Yoga?
Know Your Yoga Styles
The first thing to learn about making yoga for better sleep work for you lies within knowing the right style of yoga. For instance, Vinyasa is designed to energize and is vigorous. Doing this before bed is not likely to relax you.
Restorative yoga styles such as nidra and hatha (as mentioned above) are designed for pre-sleep. The positions of these yoga styles are performed lying down or sitting.
Your Sleep Prep Work
Preparing your bedroom for sleep is the first step in prep work before yoga. The goal is to reserve your bedroom specifically for sleep. Rowland-Seymour, MD recommends that you perform your yoga for sleep in another room when possible.
The area where you perform yoga for pre-sleep should be a place you can stretch out. You also need wall space as some positions require using a wall. If you don’t have carpeting, you need a yoga mat, or something padded upon which to comfortably perform yoga.
Loose fitting pajamas and some pillows are helpful as well.
Focus on Breathing
One of the reasons yoga for sleep is so effective is that breathing plays a major role in the therapeutic elements of yoga. Focus on your breathing as you allow your thoughts and worries of the day drift away and dissipate, leaving you relaxed and ready to for restful sleep.
It’s okay if your mind wanders during this time. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just perform the yoga and get ready to sleep. You may have tight muscles, but over time, these stretches will loosen them, making it easier each time.
According to Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., “Yoga and sleep look to be a good match.” He mentions how effective it is for sleep and many of the mental/emotional problems it solves in his article, ‘Yoga Can Help With Insomnia‘.
Another aspect of yoga that people often don’t realize is that it helps you manage when you experience times of uncertainty. Some people claim that one of the problems they have when trying to go to sleep is thinking about things that might happen the next day.
It is not possible to prepare yourself for uncertainty, but you can manage these moments with a routine yoga practice. The whole of the benefits of yoga will allow you to handle the unknown better with mental focus, a calm mind, and a healthy body. It all starts with yoga for better sleep.
The yoga poses used to promote sleep are low-impact and restorative, so that almost anyone can do them, making yoga an excellent alternative to sleeping pills and prescription tranquilizers.