How Yoga Gives You Better Sleep

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It’s 3 a.m. and you’re still counting sheep. When was the last time you had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep at night? Do you still know how it feels to wake up and feel truly refreshed?

Quality sleep has become a luxury amid our fast-paced lifestyle. There’s just so much to do with too little time. Sleep deprivation, sadly, is the norm. Without a doubt, not getting enough sleep each night makes for a rough day and can spell disaster in the long run if it becomes habitual.

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School warns that in the short term, insufficient sleep can “affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injuries.” Long-term sleep deprivation has grimmer consequences—obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and [gulp] premature death.

The repercussions of sleep deprivation go beyond irritability and sluggishness. A recent study suggests that seven nights of insufficient sleep can lead to more than 700 genetic changes.

Dr. Colin Smith, a professor at the University of Surrey, warns, “Clearly, sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur. If we can’t actually replenish and replace new cells, then that’s going to lead to degenerative diseases.”

Quality sleep, like nutritious food and exercise, is a basic need of the body. The non-profit National Sleep Foundation recommends a sleep range of seven to nine hours for people aged 18 to 64 and seven to eight hours for older adults aged 65 years and older. If you’re not getting at least seven hours of shut-eye each night, it’s time to consider a lifestyle change and possibly make a visit to the doctor since some sleeping problems may suggest an underlying psychological or medical issue. 

There are several natural ways to get back on a natural sleep cycle. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and regulating use of electronic gadgets is a great place to start. Studies have also shown that meditative activities such as yoga can help in getting a good night’s rest.

Here are some facts on how yoga can lead to a blissful slumber.

Yoga relaxes the nervous system

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The nervous system is responsible for getting a restful sleep at night. An active nervous system is one of the primary impediments to catching the sleep wave.

Yoga, which involves posture and breathing exercises, increases blood flow to the brain’s sleep center. This helps calm the nervous system and normalize the body’s sleep cycle. Some recommended yoga poses to relax the nervous system include uttanasana, halasana, and savasana. Be warned, however, that certain types of yoga such as bhastrika pranayama and sudarshan kriya yoga must be avoided in late evenings as these boost the body’s energy levels, making it hard to fall asleep.

Yoga cuts down anxiety and stress

Stress is a public health concern. It may be taken as an expected consequence of modern living, but its hazards should not be taken lightly. Stress contributes to our increased risk in developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and a myriad of other ailments.

According to a study by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), 70% of surveyed individuals who experience anxiety or stress daily confessed to having trouble sleeping. Moreover, 54% of the respondents said that their mental disorders increased anxiety about falling asleep at night.

Better sleeping because of yoga is attributed to the ability of meditative activities in quieting the mind. Putting ones focus on a single focal point provides an outlet to release energy blocks that may be causing stress. One simple solution for reducing sleep-related stress is to spend a few minutes before bed either taking a few relaxing yoga poses on the mat or in bed each night. Try it–it works!

Yoga rejuvenates the body

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One of the important benefits of yoga is its rejuvenating effect on every aspect of life. It eliminates toxins and revitalizes the entire body down to the cellular level. The breathing exercises boost the body’s oxygen levels while relaxed stretching generally has a calming effect, which usually results in improved sleep patterns.

Toronto-based yoga teacher Darcie Clark says, “When you slow down and stay in a pose, you can feel different areas of the body that are tense and holding on from your day and gradually let that go as you sit and breathe through the pose.”

A regular, daily yoga practice will impact not just how we feel during the day, but how our bodies wind down at night. Some other recommended yoga poses in the evening before sleeping include balasana or child’s pose, janu sirsasana or head-to-knee pose, and baddha konosana or bound angle pose. Rest like a baby by regularly practicing all three of these poses before dozing off in bed.

Yoga is an effective bedtime ritual

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Getting quality sleep can be a challenge when we have too many things on our minds. It’s well-documented that our obsession with our electronic gadgets at night usually adds up to sleep troubles. Sleep experts recommend developing a bedtime ritual that doesn’t involve alcohol, caffeine, electronic gadgets, and too much stimulating thinking. Incorporating a few yoga poses into the evening routine is the perfect way to turn down the noises of the day and relax the body. Even just making a few yoga poses a part of the evening ritual can lead to a blissful night’s rest.

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Patricia Evans. Patricia is an Interior Designer, Residential Designer, Art Crafter, DIYer and a full-time mother. She writes about interior decorating, she loves working with shapes, shades and spaces. She is also into green and simple living, loves cooking, and having tea.

27 comments

  1. Thanks for a wonderful blog! Yes, I am an ardent fan of Yoga. I do believe that yoga has the power to reduce stress and anxiety. Not just that, you will find answer for most of the health related issues in yoga.Though I know most of the asanas, I recently got one more training at Mammoth Lakes.

  2. For me – yoga just helps me calm my mind at the end of the day. Our minds our natural problem solvers, so if we can just relax and let the mind slow down over some time, you will sleep much better!

  3. Thanks for a great post! I am lover of yoga and I always enjoy the yoga. I believe that yoga has the power to reduce the stress and anxiety. Really, this blog is very important for yogi. Great blog!

  4. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that yoga can help lessen stress and anxiety. I am currently going to school full-time, and I’m also working a part-time job, so I’m really busy. I want to find a way to help me relax some, so I’ll definitely look into trying yoga to relieve some of the stress my busy schedule creates. Thanks for the great post!

  5. This is a great article. I think many of us have sleeping problems due to anxiety, depression, panic attacks … at least me, so it worths giving a try.
    I am launching a yoga blog for very very beginners, it is focused in using yoga to fight anxiety and depression.
    If you want to you can visit my site and suscribe, you would make me very happy.

    http://www.yogawithaloha.com

  6. This is so true. I started doing yoga a few weeks ago because I had a lot of anxiety and stress. I was a little sceptic, but after one session I already noticed a difference in my sleep. I have never slept as deep as I did that night! It was hard to get out of bed in the morning. I wonder though, if it would be different if I did yoga in the mornings. My yoga class is late at night (8:30 pm) and I think that’s why I sleep so well afterwards… I’m going to try a morning class next weekend and see if that also influences my sleep.

  7. I have suffered with insonmia & mind racing on bed time for years, and Yoga was my medicine. Gently stretching my body, and mindfully breathing provide me a deep relaxation & peace of mind to get a good night’s sleep. I’d also recommend people to chant a mantra before sleeping. Namaste.

  8. I am suffering fro stress, depression and my friend advised me to try yoga. Thanks for this inspirational resource. I would definitely try it now.

  9. Good read.
    Yoga is one such art that not just strengthens your body but relaxes your mind.
    I just practice breathing for now since the gym takes up my time.
    I always thought Yoga is a bogus waste of time but i happened to read over this research paper and it completely changed my thoughts.
    http://bit.ly/1XbPBAp
    Now i’m an ardent follower.

  10. This is an excellent blog. I would have appreciated seeing some images of practicing yoga asana. The quality of your sleep will improve because of the stimulatory effect yoga has on the nervous system, and in particular the brain.

  11. This article was very interesting. I always knew that Yoga had many different benefits but I didn’t know the many benefits it does for better sleep! I’ve already shared this article with my business partners who do Yoga on a daily basis.

  12. I actually love how you gave so much importance to sleep and recovery. In bodybuilding, it is important to have enough sleep to be able to recover to the stress and the energy that we lost during the execution of our routines. I will definitely try to use yoga to get enough sleep–that will keep me away from fatigue and diseases!

  13. I really agree with this post. I have talked about it alot of times how yoga along with meditation have helped me to relax my mind which will result in me getting a better sleep. There are lots of time when I come from work feeling tired and un ease. But since I have started to practice yoga, I am now a better person spiritually and mentally.

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