Can Yoga Help You Sleep Better?

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder among American adults, with 10 to 15 percent of the population suffering from chronic insomnia. As many as 40% of adults in the U.S. experience some type of insomnia every year.

Older people, women, and those with other health problems are at higher risk for insomnia.

Despite its prevalence, insomnia, like many other sleep disorders, remains significantly under-diagnosed.

Insomnia may be common, but if left untreated its health consequences can be anything but benign. Chronic insomnia is associated with a number of serious medical conditions.

It can contribute to problems such as high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Research also indicates that lack of sleep can have negative effects on cognition, and the brain. Poor and fragmented sleep may contribute to impaired cognition as we age.

So, How Can Yoga Help?

1. Yoga reduces stress.

If there’s one thing yoga can do for you, it’s reduce stress! And don’t be fooled, stress shows itself in many different ways. Getting married to the love of your life or landing your dream job can be both happy, and stressful at the same time. Yoga can help you become more focused and mindful.

2. Yoga regulates your nervous system.

Many insomniacs suffer from hyperarousal. That means your ‘fight or flight’ response that was prompted by something that happened to you earlier in the day (like trying to meet a work deadline or fighting with a partner). Even if you feel exhausted, your nervous system may not be willing to allow you to rest. Yoga can help people come back to homeostasis quicker than people who don’t practice it.

3. Yoga helps you create a regular routine.

Yoga can help you create a routine and learn better sleep practices. Since yoga encourages you to experiment and listen to your body, You will be able to develop a routine; including taking a shower and doing a gentle yoga practice in bed or on the mat.

In this study, researchers included people with different types of insomnia, evaluating people with both primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is sleeplessness that develops on its own, independent of any other health problem or sleep disorder. Secondary insomnia develops as a symptom or consequence of another medical condition.

Many illnesses and health problems are associated with insomnia, including cancer, chronic pain conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, and depression. Medications taken for chronic or acute health conditions can also trigger insomnia, as can the use (and abuse) of substances such as alcohol and prescription drugs.

Some of the Benefits of Yoga for the Sleep Deprived:

1. Sleep efficiency- sleeping more deeply.

2. Total sleep time

3. Total wake time- the ability to quickly wake up fully

4. Sleep onset latency- the amount of time it takes to fall asleep

When people who have insomnia perform yoga on a daily basis, they sleep for longer, fall asleep faster, and return to sleep more quickly if they wake up in the middle of the night.

If you want to work yoga into your bedtime routine, it’s important to do the right kind. Some types of yoga can be energizing (like hot yoga and vigorous vinyasa flow), which won’t help you relax as well as restorative styles of yoga-like Hatha and Nidra.

3 Poses for Preparing Your Body for Sleep:

1. Legs Up the Wall: Lie on the ground on your back and put the back of your legs up a wall (keep your legs straight), so your body is in an L-shaped pose. Relax into the position, hold it for at least 30 seconds and focus on your breathing.

2. Lying Butterfly: Lie on the ground on your back. Press the bottoms of your feet against each other and let your knees fall out to the sides. You can put a pillow under your knees if this feels too strenuous.

3. Corpse Pose: Lie on the ground on your back with legs straight, arms by sides, and palms facing up. Breathe slowly, focusing on your inhales and exhales.

So, the answer is Yes! Yoga can definitely help you to treat your insomnia, sleep better, longer, wake up faster and more rested.

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