How Yoga Can Help You Sleep
Posted on August 08 2018
You’ve read all the studies. You know how important a good night’s sleep is for your mental functioning, immune system, stress reduction, and overall health.
And yet you toss and turn at night, unable to fall asleep. Fortunately, yoga can come to the rescue!
Here’s how yoga can help you relax, fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep throughout the night.
What Causes Insomnia?
There are a number of different issues which can cause insomnia and other sleep issues.
True, some of them relate to medical conditions like asthma. If you can’t breathe, it can be tricky to fall asleep!
But many of them relate to issues which can be addressed without necessarily turning to medication.
For example, stress is a key factor in being unable to sleep. People worry about things in the past or stressors which threaten their future. All of that time spent worrying saps their energy and health – the very things which could be useful in addressing those issues.
Another factor in sleep issues can be pain. Pain occurs for a wide variety of reasons – injuries, repetitive motions, improper postures, and more.
Then there are the myriad of lifestyle choices we make which can interfere with our sleep cycle. Drinking caffeine. Eating close to bedtime. Having bright lights on near bedtime.
Once we get an idea of what might be contributing to the sleep issues, it’s time to take action.
Yoga and Stress
Yoga does an incredible job of helping people reduce stress.
It teaches us to be more accepting of the life we have and to release expectations. It encourages us to strive toward healthy goals. We cannot change the past. We can only do a better job in the future. The best way of achieving that is to look clear-eyed at our situation, map out an achievable goal, and to start taking steps toward it.
The more that we feel we have a plan, the less we need to stress about what to do next. That leads to better sleep, which gives us more energy to achieve our goals, which leads to more progress, and the system snowballs.
Yoga also helps reduce stress in another way.
It draws the mind out of its cycles of worry and redirects the thoughts to focus on the balance of a foot. The curve of a hand. The lift of the head. Your concentration is gently swept into the state of your body, which can then allow concerns and spiraling doubts to fade into the background (at least temporary, for your mind to rest a little).
Yoga and Pain
Pain is a signal which comes in from our body to let us know of an issue.
It can be really helpful in cases where we didn’t realize we got hurt – perhaps if we got a paper cut on a finger. It lets us know to go find a band-aid.
Pain can also be an alert to us that we aren’t taking care of ourselves properly. A back ache may remind us that we’re not sitting well at our computer desk. It can encourage us to adjust our chair and monitor height to be healthier for our body.
Yoga helps us tune in to those signals more attentively.
In yoga we work all the major muscle groups so they stay in balance. We strengthen our core and build our flexibility. This helps us to avoid and minimize injuries and stress pains.
In addition, yoga helps us to reduce the sensation of pain in situations where we know what the issue is and are already taking care of it.
For example, let’s say you fell down and damaged your arm. You know the arm needs tender care, and you have it wrapped up. You are doing your best to let it heal. But still, it throbs with pain just because it’s injured.
That constant pain is not “helping” you in any way, and those stress hormones are causing trouble for your rest, which is what you really need to heal. Yoga can help you to tune down that signal. You still know the arm is hurt, so that you are reminded to treat the injury gently while it heals, but you’re also able to rest and give your body time to renew itself.
It’s important to remember that pain serves an important purpose for us. It presents an alert that a part of our body needs tending to. But it’s also important to get sleep and to release stress hormones from the body. Yoga helps to find that balance.
Yoga and Self-Care
The practice of yoga reminds us that we are worthy of being cared for.
This means our bodies deserve healthy food, ample hydration, and a gentle ease into the sleep cycle.
Through yoga we learn that practices such as overeating or overdrinking might bring short-term relief but often cause serious long-term problems. We find alternative ways to release stress and to bolster our mood. This creates life-long positive changes which help us to reach our goals.
Sleep is an important part of every person’s daily routine. It is the time where our mind refreshes, our body heals, and our system resets for a fresh day. A good night’s sleep lets us marshal our energies to achieve our goals and surmount challenges. Yoga is an integral part of easing us into the land of Nod and to carry us smoothly through until morning.
The yogatwist team :)