Yoga is a wonderful tool to help to improve a number of things, such as core strength, stress levels and flexibility; but what many do not know is that yoga also is a great tool to help you sleep and combat insomnia. According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, insomniacs who practicedyoga daily, found that they were able to sleep for longer periods of time, fall asleep faster, and return to sleep more quickly if they experienced disruption in the night. Furthermore, the study also found that the practice of regular yoga not only improved the sleep of insomniacs, but also pregnant mothers and cancer patients. In the UK around 75% of the adult population are getting less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night. This is a statistic we believe can be changed through the power of yoga. Read how baby yoga helps sleep deprivation.
Here are some of the many ways yoga helps to improve sleep…
1. Reducing Stress – The practice of yoga reduces the levels of Cortisol (the “stress hormone”) in the brain. Yoga focuses a great deal on mindfulness, in which a person is encouraged to focus on ‘being’ as oppose to ‘doing. This helps to minimise the chances of triggering emotional stressors before bedtime, and allows the mind to relax and drift off to sleep in a calm state.
2. Stabilizing the Nervous System –The majority of adults will experience ‘hyperarousal’ during the day, in which our “fight or flight” senses are engaged. This often results in alertness and sleeplessness later in the night despite feelings of exhaustion. Yoga is a hugely beneficial practice in this instance, as it is able to bring us quickly back to homeostasis, the ‘resting state’ of the nervous system, and allow for a natural release of tension resulting in more tranquil sleep.
3. Easing discomfort and pain – Many of us suffer with pain or stiffness in our backs, necks and joints. The demands of daily life can take a toll on the body, and trying to sleep while suffering with discomfort is no easy feat. However, yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, strength and mobility in these key areas, and allows for a more comfortable, and easy sleep.
4. Creating a regular routine – By incorporating yoga into your nightly routine as a means to unwind, it allows your body and mind to recognise when ‘bedtime’ has arrived. This should help to train you to feel tired and sleepy in a natural way, so that the body clock is regulated and sleep comes more organically.
5. Calming the racing mind – Many people who struggle to sleep at night claim that it is because their minds are racing with thoughts, stresses and uncertainty. Whether we are worried about things we have to get done in the day ahead, or even stressing about the fact we won’t get enough sleep to be able to tackle said tasks – our minds seem to go into overdrive when our heads hit the pillow. Yoga helps to ease the mind, and calm thoughts, so that we focus on the ‘now’ rather than what is ahead.