Is poor sleep interrupting your day? Yoga is the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to staying healthy: not only does this fun form of exercise help you stay fit and flexible, but it can also help you relax and sleep better. That’s why many people are incorporating yoga into their nighttime routine. If you tend to have difficulty falling asleep, yoga is an all-natural sleep aid that you can do right in your bedroom.
Yoga for Sleep: How Yoga Can Help You Sleep
Why does yoga before bed work so well? Not only can it replace ineffective habits, such as screen time right before falling asleep, but it ultimately relaxes your mind, your nervous system, and your body.
Mental Health Benefits
- Stress Less
- Prepare the Mind for Sleep
- Helps with Mental Health Disorders
Many of us get worked up throughout the day with the stressful activities of life, so when it comes time to sleep, our brains are still firing on all cylinders. Yoga is a renowned method of calming the brain and counteracting stress hormones we may experience at the end of the day. When you stress less in your head, you can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and protect your organs from stress. According to a national survey, 85% of yoga users report that yoga lowers stress levels, which is the perfect activity to do to get deeper sleep.
In a traditional sense, yoga is having unity of the mind, body, and spirit, and many people enjoy the more spiritual or meditative side of yoga. Letting your mind rest and go to a peaceful, worry-free zone gives you more control over your sleep. Mindfulness also increases melatonin levels, which is a hormone that helps improve your sleep cycles. Doing yoga helps create an atmosphere of calm and prepares you for deeper, regular sleep.
Whether you experience it occasionally or every night before bed, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental disorders keep people awake. Little sleep and negative moods can become a vicious cycle: when you don’t get enough sleep, you stress more and experience mental exhaustion, and a negative mood keeps you from sleeping because it arouses and alerts both your brain and body. Meditation, breathing exercises, and the physical release of endorphins can break the cycle and put you in a better mood for bed.
Physical Health Benefits
- Exercise and Sleep
- Stretching and Pain Relief
- Activating the Nervous System
Regular exercise, whether it’s yoga or not, encourages better sleep. Yoga is a great combination of mild exercise that you can do right before bed without getting mentally worked up. Getting better rest helps maintain weight loss and encourages mindfulness about other health habits, too.
Stretching helps release tension, reduce body pain, encourage muscle recovery, and increase circulation in the body, which all improve your sleep and sleeping conditions. Stretch to avoid muscle spasms in the night, too, for uninterrupted rest. Yoga also improves posture, and good posture protects your back from injury and pain during sleep.
Yoga for sleep incorporates both poses and intentional breathing techniques. Breathing exercises in general help reduce the fight-or-flight hormone, technically known as the sympathetic nervous system. Breathing exercises instead activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body rest, preserve energy, regulate bodily functions, and prepare for sleep. Such exercises also circulate oxygen and induce sleep, making falling asleep a little easier.
Yoga Poses to Help You Relax and Sleep
When it’s time for bed, try a couple of these yoga poses to wind down. To experience the full effect, be sure to include meditation, breathing exercises, and physical poses. You only stay in most of these positions for 5 minutes tops, so you can easily create a 20-30 minute nighttime yoga routine.
This pose helps you stretch your hamstrings, relieve your lower body, and start your yoga routine.
- Lie on your back and bend your knees to your chest. Then extend your legs so that they are at a 90-degree angle with the other half of your body.
- If keeping your legs up in the air is uncomfortable, you can choose to keep your knees bent.
- You can also try a similar pose that’s popular for sleeping: Legs-Up-The-Wall. Create the same “L” shape with your body and rest your legs flush against the wall for added support.
2. Twisted Roots
Your back will thank you for this pose as it releases the stress and tension from the day. Twisted Roots helps with potential achiness and digestion.
- Lay flat on your back before bringing your knees towards the chest as far as you can comfortably bring them. Then let your knees fall to the side, allowing for a nice stretch in the spine.
- Your heels should still be on the ground, one on top of the other. Consider using a pillow if you feel uncomfortable.
- Lift your arms above your head to make a “U” shape. You can also turn your head in the opposite direction of your knees to stretch your neck.
3. Reclined Butterfly
This stretch targets openness in your hips, calms the nervous system, and relieves stress.
- Start in a sitting position and push the soles of your feet together. Then allow your legs to each fall to their side.
- Lie down on your back and rest your hands wherever you feel comfortable. Palms-down at your sides is usually a neutral and easy place.
- Put pillows under your knees for added support.
4. Child’s Pose
One of the most relaxing poses, Child’s Pose is great for winding down or ending the routine while also stretching your spine.
- Starting on your knees, lower your upper body on the ground in front of you and let your hands and arms stretch in front of you.
- Then bring your hips back to rest on your heels. You can keep your knees close together or let them sit wide.
- Focus on breathing and let your chest sink into your thighs. You can add a pillow under your stomach for support.
5. Corpse Pose
As a common closing position for yoga routines, the Corpse Pose is a restorative pose for ultimate relaxation and meditation.
- Lie flat on your back with your hands at your side, palms facing up.
- Place your feet about a hip-distance apart. No major stretching is practiced here.
- Focus on relaxation, letting go of tension, and allowing your body to feel heavy. Consider adding a guided meditation.
Things To Keep in Mind For Your Routine
It’s not always easy to create a new habit and stick with it. Use these tips and tricks to get the most of your nighttime yoga routine.
Make it about you. If you desperately need 20 minutes of alone time, set aside a specific amount of time before bed to fully dedicate to yourself. If you only have 10 minutes, keep it simple and intentional. If you can make it desirable and easy, you’ll likely want to continue doing it.
Do it at the same time. Train your brain to expect relaxation before bed to help wind down, and your brain will start associating bedtime with sleep.
Create a relaxing atmosphere. As much as you can, make your environment as calm and tranquil as you want to be. Aromatic candles, dimmed lights, and gentle music can help set the mood.
Avoid energizing poses. Some yoga techniques are a little more involved and challenging. Backbends and overly active positions probably won’t help you relax. Instead of yoga workouts, focus on poses that you can focus on breathing.
Practice yoga safely. Not only does discomfort defeat the purpose of yoga before bed, but you don’t want to strain or cause injury. Reach out to a professional if you feel concerned about the stretches you’re doing.
Start With Yoga, Finish With Beautyrest
What do yoga sleep and Beautyrest have in common? They can both improve the quality of rest you get every night! You don’t want to spoil all of the hard work and relaxation you earned during your yoga routine by crawling into an uncomfy bed. The right mattress is supportive and protects your muscles, joints, and back from being strained in the night.