Yoga helps with just about everything. Physically, it can make you stronger, improve your balance, and enhance your flexibility. Mentally, it can help you feel calm, relaxed, and focused. Up to 36 million Americans practice yoga and it’s not hard to see why – it makes you feel better.
Another way yoga helps is by supporting your natural sleep needs. According to one national survey, more than 55% of respondents said doing yoga improved their sleep. In this article, we will be diving into the reasons why, and showing how you can use yoga to improve your own sleep.
The Deep Link Between Yoga and Sleep
We should say upfront that yoga is not a magic cure for sleep problems. If you’re regularly having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, it could be because of a worn-out mattress or a medical condition. That being said, yoga has a lot of benefits for people who want to sleep better on a more consistent basis. Many report they’re able to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling more rested and refreshed. Here’s why:
- Yoga Relieves Stress – Doing yoga reduces your body’s levels of cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone.” Any kind of exercise helps your body release tension, but yoga, in particular, promotes relaxation because it’s relatively low-speed and low-impact. Better still, that feeling of relaxation lingers long after the yoga stops.
- Yoga Calms the Nervous System – Stress and anxiety can put the nervous system into a state that makes it hard to sleep no matter how tired you feel physically. Yoga can help to calm your nerves so that it’s easier to fall into a restful sleep.
- Yoga Serves Your Natural Routine – Sticking to a routine helps support a healthy sleep cycle, and yoga can be an important part of that routine. Doing some light yoga every night can help you physically and mentally prepare for sleep. Committing to the routine also helps you avoid bad habits that might keep you up at night.
- Yoga Reduces Anxiety – The philosophy behind yoga promotes mindfulness and acceptance. Many people who practice yoga consistently find it helps their anxiety because they worry less about things outside of their control, especially when they’re lying in bed at night.
- Yoga is an Alternative to Insomnia – When you can’t sleep you might decide to get on your phone, watch some TV, or grab a late snack. Unfortunately, all those things can make it harder to get back to sleep. Try doing some quick yoga instead. The activity is not enough to fully wake you up, and the motions can help focus your mind and body back on sleep.
A Yoga Routine to Help You Sleep
There’s no right or wrong way to use yoga to support your sleep. Ultimately, whatever works for you – based on your goals, schedule, ability, history, etc – is what you should incorporate into your routine. However, there are certain poses that are especially good at relieving tension and promoting relaxation:
Wide-Knee Child’s Pose
Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees splayed. Sink your chest into your thighs, lowering your body towards the floor and letting your arms stretch back towards your toes. Keep your forehead on the ground while rolling your head gently from side to side. This pose is great for reducing tension throughout the upper body.
Standing Forward Bend
Put your feet shoulder-width apart and then bend at the waist as if you were trying to put your forehead to your knees. Let your hands rest on your shins or the floor but don’t bend so far that it becomes uncomfortable. Rock your hips and flex your calves to get a good stretch throughout your lower body.
Standing Half Forward Bend
This pose is very similar to the previous one, except you bend 90-degrees at the waist so your body forms an “L” shape. Stretch your arms in front of you so that they are just touching a wall, then use the resistance to work out tension in your shoulders and hips.
Reclining Bound Angle
Lie on the ground, bend your knees, and put the bottoms of your feet together. Let your knees fall away from each other, and bring your feet up towards your tailbone. This pose is designed to loosen up the hips and groin area.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
Act like you are sitting on a wall. Lie with your back on a mat and your legs stretched straight out in front of you up the wall. Try to keep your body in an L shape and let your arms stretch perpendicular to your torso on either side. Simply holding this pose allows blood to drain out of your feet and ankles, which is great for people who spend a lot of time on their feet.
Traditionally done as the final pose in a yoga routine, corpse pose simply involves lying on your back. Let your arms rest comfortably to either side of you, and keep your legs straight but not rigid. Focus on your breathing, and stretch out any parts of your body that still feel stiff or sore. The goal is to release any tension remaining in your body while putting you into a state of extreme relaxation. Don’t be surprised (or embarrassed) if you nod off in the middle of the pose.
Rest Peacefully With Sit ‘n Sleep
Getting great sleep isn’t easy, but it is essential. We encourage you to try some or all of the poses outlined above, holding each one for 3-5 minutes. However, if you start doing yoga and still struggle with sleep, the problem might not be your mind or body – it could be your mattress. Mattresses that are old, worn out, and unsuited to your sleep style can make it hard to sleep successfully even if you do hours of yoga each day. Visit one of our 38 locations throughout Southern California to try out an impressive array of modern mattresses designed for every style of sleeper. Feel free to explore our inventory (and get more sleep tips) on our website, and please call us at 800-908-0354 for more information.