My acquaintance with sleep is wobbly since adolescence. It comes to me when I want it the least, yet stays far away when I am badly tired and need it the most. As a result, I suffer sleep deprivation on an almost daily basis.
No matter how dark and comfortable my room is, it makes no significant difference. I lay down, wondering about my life with eyes wide open.
‘How sleep deprivation affects a person’ is something which I can talk about at hours end. I am a victim of it for many years, making me a part of that 35 % of adults who, according to the CDC, don’t get enough sleep.
The statistic doesn’t paint a very encouraging picture. A global reduction in average sleep hours has been recorded for the last 50 years.
People like me, for whom even sleep aids tend to fail, end up looking for ways to tackle insomnia. Along with other tips like setting a proper routine, and avoiding mobile phone usage before you sleep, there is one thing that several health experts swear by. It’s Yoga!
The Sleep Foundation revealed that insomniacs who start performing yoga tend to fall asleep faster. They also sleep for longer duration and have no trouble going back to sleep if woken up in the middle of the night.
Below we will tell you how yoga contributes to better sleep:
- Certain yoga poses involve meditation, which aids in better sleep
A good night’s sleep requires calming down a hyperactive mind. Several factors such as stress, panic, worry about work, family, and ailments can cause the brain to go into anxiety. In other words, your mind needs to switch off to drift away.
Meditation in yoga helps to achieve that ‘switch off’ factor. It gives the yogi all the basic principles of mindfulness. These acts train the person’s mind to detach from all kinds of thoughts at the end of the day, and they note a drastic improvement in their sleep quality and sleep duration.
Ute Hülsheger, a psychology professor at Maastricht University, reminds us that you have to practice yoga if you want sustainable effects from mindfulness regularly.
Swap meditation with your sheep counting to fall asleep to help. Try it at least twenty minutes before you sleep.
- Integrating yoga in your daily routine helps regularize the sleep cycle
Your mom was right when she scolded you for having a discordant routine. One needs to wake up at the same time every day to keep the sleep cycle on track.
Over time, as the daily routines become second nature, discipline transforms into a habit.
When you begin to do yoga regularly, the first benefit it gives you is a balanced routine. Giving a particular slot to perform your asanas every day motivates you to have a proper routine so that you don’t miss these sessions.
You will notice the positive impact of yoga on your sleep timings very soon. And once you achieve even a little regularity, you will start sleeping more comfortably.
- Yoga reduces the cortisol (sleep enemy)
What’s keeping most of us awake till the late hours? It is nothing else but the stress.
Worrying about the not-so-perfect aspects of our lives, upcoming deadlines, the uncertainty of the future, and hundreds of other factors cause us to feel stressed out.
A night of peaceful sleep is out of the question when one is crushed beneath unfulfilled responsibilities or grief of any sort.
My advice: hold on, sip some fresh apple juice, and begin practicing yoga from today.
Stress elevates cortisol levels. It is a hormone whose high levels badly affect the learning abilities, immunity, body weight, heart, and numerous other health factors.
According to NCBI, yoga may have anti-stress effects as it reduces cortisol levels. It relieves chronic depression to a great extent, which assists in better sleeping habits.
- Increased Melatonin that manages our sleep/wake cycle
The brain’s pineal gland secrets a hormone named Melatonin. It is responsible for regulating a person’s sleep/wake cycles. Specific asanas of yoga increase melatonin production that is vital in getting a night of restful sleep.
Apart from body clock regulation, Melatonin has additional qualities like prevention against heart diseases, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s. It also cures the kind of insomnia suffered by drug withdrawers.
A research conducted by the University of Massachusetts found that women who meditated had much higher levels of Melatonin compared with women who did not meditate ever.
- Yoga regulates our mood.
Yoga is one of many ways that help us improve our mood.
Do you know? By doing yoga for just an hour, the levels of Gamma-aminobutyric (GABA), a neurotransmitter increase by 27%. It was proven by the researchers at Boston University School of Medicine.
Low levels of GABA contribute to many mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It is quite simple to understand that the higher levels of this neurotransmitter can lift our mood instantly.
One more hormone that plays a vital role in happiness is Serotonin, which is released during yoga. Serotonin stimulation relaxes a person, which influences the mood positively.
- Yoga is proven to give a boost to your nervous system.
Who signals our brain that it’s time to dose off? Our nervous system.
Nevertheless, strengthening our nervous system makes this communication process much faster and uncomplicated. Yoga practices are proven to boost the nervous system and help it run like a smooth orchestra.
The inner calmness is achieved when the system is balanced, and yoga breathing techniques are a great way to accomplish that. When one feels calm, he can easily fall asleep.
Sleep aiding yoga poses
Inspired by the above facts? Today, before bedtime, roll out your yoga mat and try some of these sleep-inducing yoga poses:
- The happy baby pose
- Butterfly pose
- Childs pose
- Legs up the wall pose
- The corpse pose (savasana)
- Dynamic forward fold sequence
- Standing forward pose
- Before-bed hip bridge
- Downward facing dog pose
- The seated forward bend pose
- The Nidra techniques (relaxation with consciousness)
Here is my advice: Relax yourself completely before starting the meditation. First of all, change into your most comfortable nightdress. For mens sleep shorts would do the trick, and, for women, cotton pajamas are fine.
Also, turn off all your gadgets at least an hour before. In this way, your mind will be relieved of all the news about your surroundings, and you’ll be able to focus on meditation.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 55% of survey participants reported better sleep after doing yoga. Adequate sleep, alone, solves the majority of health issues and inhibits the onset of many diseases.
If you are someone struggling with sleep, then search for the cause of it and then start doing the yoga asanas that are suitable to overcome this issue. Begin with simple breathing techniques, and move on towards advance yoga that is adapted to treat insomnia.
I hope you will quickly start getting ample hours of sleep as a result.