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Yoga Poses to Improve Sleep

A woman does a yoga posture in bed.

Yoga Poses to Improve Sleep

A woman does a yoga posture in bed.

No matter what’s keeping your eyes wide open during the night, lost hours of sleep will leave you feeling drained and groggy when the alarm blares. Not sure how to fall asleep faster? Yoga and meditation can help the body and the mind prepare for bedtime.

Numerous studies have reported yoga’s positive impacts on sleep. In one study, researchers found that yoga practice (for half the year) “significantly improved” sleep for those in assisted living. Yoga also helped cancer survivors embrace better sleep and may help improve sleep for pregnant women.

Channel your inner yogi with these yoga poses to improve sleep!

1. Legs up the Wall

The National Sleep Foundation recommends eight positions for better sleep. One of those positions is “Legs Up the Wall.” How do you do this? It’s actually pretty easy. Per the NSF, put your bottom against the wall with your back on the floor and hold your legs straight up resting against the wall. Your arms should be at your side and face the palms skyward. Then keep that pose for about 20 seconds.

2. The Corpse Pose

Johns Hopkins recommends the Corpse Pose for sleep. This pose is so easy! Hopkins notes that you should lie on your back, with palms up…be sure to keep arms at your side. Staying relaxed and loose is the big benefit of this pose.

A yoga class demonstrates the Child’s Pose.

3. Child’s Pose

Yoga Journal recommends the Child’s Pose position in bed! That’s right, you can contort into this posture while you’re sitting in bed. Yoga Journal explains that you should use a pillow beneath your chest and place your bent arms off to the side with your cheek lying on the pillow; then spread your knees wide apart.

4. Wind-Relieving Pose

Another position recommend for the bed by Yoga Journal, the Wind-Relieving Pose just requires you to lie on your back with one knee raised (arms around the knee!). Yoga Journal explains that the other leg should remain straight…with toes facing toward the sky.

5.   Legs on a Chair

Harvard Health Blog recommends the Legs on a Chair pose for a good night’s sleep. Lie on the ground (or on your mat) with arms slightly spread.  Scoot your body toward the chair and place your legs on the seat of the chair (legs bent at the knee). The Harvard Health Blog notes that “thighs should be at a 90 degree angle to your shins.”

Different sources recommend different poses, and you may want to try a variety of these sleep inducing yoga poses before bed. If you try a position that hurts your body, don’t force the position. Move onto a posture that is comfortable and relaxing for the body.

Inhale, Exhale…Repeat

Yoga also should focus on the breath. Your breathing and the rhythm of your breathing may help your body relax. You can follow traditional yoga breathing techniques, and Yoga Journal outlines five different breathing techniques to embrace during yoga sessions.

The easiest technique is what Yoga Journal refers to as “basic breath awareness.” This technique focuses on becoming aware of breathing patterns. Inhale and exhale through the nose and be cognizant of each breath.

Meditation

There are many forms of meditation, and meditation can be combined with yoga to aid in relaxation. Meditation can involve prayers, breathing exercises, integrate music or even crystals. There are many ‘how to’ guides on meditation. You can even cue up tutorials on YouTube.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate, though. You can ‘wing it’ and create your own method. One of the easiest ways to meditate is to focus on breathing. Pick a breathing pattern and focus only on inhaling and exhaling…and the moment.

You can hold an image or word in your mind. Or maybe imagine a beautiful blue sea. Meditation is about clearing the mind from worries.  If music helps you relax, then turn on a favorite play list. You may want to avoid music that is too loud or aggressive, though.

The beats that aid sleep follow our heart rhythm; so choose songs that clock about 60 beats per minute. Need a list? Spotify has more than 800 songs that match the heart rate at 60 beats. Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and “Landslide” will lull you to sleep, and so will “Angie” by the Rolling Stones.

Be Mindful: Embrace Good Habits and Give Up the Bad Ones

While certain poses may help you sleep, try to avoid doing any hardcore exercise before bed…if you know that exercise will keep you wide awake. Some individuals are sensitive to workouts before bed, and this may leave them restless and unable to fall asleep.

To aid in sleep, avoid excessive screen time. Don’t play on the phone, answer emails or stream movies. The blue light emitted from screens interferes with our body’s natural rhythm. Blue light tricks us into staying awake, so turn off those screens!

Be mindful about eating and drinking before bed, too. Caffeine jolts the body awake, so avoid all caffeinated beverages and foods several hours before bed. Drinking too much water before going to sleep also will keep you up…and heading to the bathroom! Stay hydrated, but don’t go overboard.

Focus on poses and activities that lull the body into relaxation. Your nightly routine should be all about setting the mood for sleep and calm. You may even integrate soothing fragrances to aid in relaxation during yoga and meditation; try scents like lavender and vanilla.

Before your yoga routine, you may find it therapeutic to journal about your worries. Writing down tomorrow’s to-do list or the day’s worries may help you remove them from your mind. A worry journal can be kept by the bed.

There are many yoga positions that can help you sleep, and some of them can be done in bed! However, when you’re embracing yoga and mindfulness, you also should adopt other healthy habits…and give up a few bad ones. Don’t drink caffeine before bed or stare at the screen! Instead, give the body a few hours to unwind without technology. Journal your worries, fears or write down your to-do list. Play songs that mimic your heart rate, and add soothing scents that help the body relax. A healthy dose of sleep is necessary for good health, and yoga, meditation and mindfulness may help the body rest easier.

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yoga poses for sleep infographic

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