Sleep and Yoga; A Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Rest
It’s a little bit past midnight, you went to bed at a decent hour to prepare for the day ahead and the early morning wake-up call that you will receive from your alarm. And yet, you’re still awake. Work has been busy, there’s been a lot of tension in your relationships and, worst of all, your relationship with yourself hasn’t been what you want it to be. All of the things that have been bothering you are running through your mind in a constant loop, and there seems to be no respite from the turning wheels in your brain. But you really need to get some sleep!
You’re not alone. People of all ages suffer from sleep deprivation and insomnia, the bustling nature of life in a constant battle with the peaceful REM sleep that we all need to feel refreshed in the morning. We don’t always talk about how important sleep is, but studies have informed us that the consequences of sleep deprivation can be dire. Lack of sleep slows cognition, causes depression, ages the skin, impairs judgment and is linked to a variety of serious health issues, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and even early death. Despite the demands of everyday life, it isn’t worth not getting a good night’s rest.
On a positive note, scientists have linked yoga practice to improved sleep (so, as a yogi, you’re already winning half of the battle!) The decrease in stress and increase in levels of melatonin that come from regular yoga practice have been proven to make a huge difference in not just the amount of sleep you get, but also the overall quality of sleep. Considering all this, along with a balanced mind, body and soul, the incredible effects of yoga are impossible to ignore.
When aiming to get a better night’s rest, there are a variety of different poses that you can do before heading off to bed. Remember to breathe, find your centre, and connect with your body as you spend a bit of time in each pose:
1) Legs up the wall: This is an amazing pose to help relax the body, brain and the lymphatic system. Remember to give yourself entirely to the wall and breathe deeply!
2) Seated forward bend: Another effective stress reliever! As a bonus, it’s a great stretch for the legs.
3) Sphinx pose: A very gentle back bend that will help to ease tension from the lower body and increase flexibility in that area.
4) Cat and cow pose: The momentum of this one has a very “lulling” effect, you could practically fall asleep while doing it! Limber up the spine and ease the body into a restful tabletop position once completed.
5) Child’s pose: A resting pose that provides a gentle stretch and is definitely a must. If you would like your child’s pose to be a little more passive, lay your arms to the side instead of the front of the body.
6) Forward fold: As you move forward and the blood flows in a different direction, a sensation of restfulness develops. Remember to stand up slowly when you are done to avoid a head rush.
7) Downward Dog: A classic resting pose and a great way to end your pre-sleep yoga practice.Developing a practice before bed can help you to reap the benefits of a perfect’s night slumber.
Here at Yoga Tree Studios, every student has their own idea of what sort of practice helps them sleep best, from hot yoga to yin. Whatever helps you centre and relax for the night ahead, do it and allow your body to absorb the benefits. You are guaranteed to sleep better!