Research shows that it’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day. Those that get less than 7 hours regularly have weakened immune systems, low energy during the day, trouble focusing, and make more mistakes at work. Yet, getting 7-8 hours of sleep can be very difficult if you have insomnia. Yoga for insomnia is one tool that can help you get better sleep, naturally.
There are generally two types of insomniacs: those who can't fall asleep and those who can't stay asleep. Hyperarousal (mind racing, muscles tensed) is one of the most common causes of insomnia. Whatever the cause of your insomnia is, stress is usually the result because not being able to sleep really sucks! It's a vicious cycle in which you have trouble falling asleep, often due to stress or nervous system imbalance, then when you don't sleep well, that adds more stress, repeating the cycle. According to a recent Huffington Post survey, sleep deprivation is a major source of stress in US adults. Luckily, there is a simple and healthy answer that can help you both reduce stress and achieve sleep: Yoga for insomnia. (Full disclosure: we are kind of obsessed with yoga here.)
Is yoga good for insomnia?
While some medications taken for chronic conditions may trigger insomnia, yoga for insomnia is a natural sleep remedy. Yoga lowers stress levels, calms the mind, and relieves tension in the body. Yogic breathing: taking long, slow breathes, can have a naturally calming and sedating effect on the body, signalling the brain to start releasing relaxing hormones in the brain. Yoga allows you to feel the areas of the body that are tense. Yoga can help you gradually let go of this tension. Even the very foundations of yoga such as mindfulness encourage sleep and combat insomnia. Mindfulness teaches you to live in the moment, leaving behind the stressors of the past that cannot be changed, and accepting and releasing your emotions rather than allowing them to send your mind into a frenzy and create stress.
Yoga and Insomnia Research
According to Psychology Today, researchers at Harvard Medical School recently investigated the effects of daily yoga practice on 20 participants composed of individuals with insomnia that developed on its own or insomnia as the result of a health condition. The researchers provided basic yoga training to the participants and then instructed them to continue their yoga practices for eight weeks while maintaining a detailed sleep diary. At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers found significant improvements in the participants in both sleep quality and quantity. This is really promising research for the benefits of yoga for insomnia.
Yoga is a natural remedy for insomnia that is incredibly helpful and therapeutic for many people. Try out these five yoga poses for insomnia!
Yoga Poses For Insomnia
1 – Child's Pose: Place a couple of pillows or bolsters in between your knees. Sit on top of your feet with your knees as wide as the mat. Start to walk your hands forward until your forehead reaches the pillow. Turn your head to one side. After a few minutes, switch sides. This stretch relives tension in the body and sends blood to the brain, calming the mind.
2 – Legs-up-the-Wall Pose: Lay on your back about six inches from the wall with your legs extended up the wall and your palms facing the ceiling. You can move closer to the wall if your legs can safely handle a bigger stretch. Lifting the legs sends blood rushing to the heart, which soothes the body.
3 – Forward Bend Pose: Sit in a cross-legged position in front of a chair or wall. Place a pillow on the chair or against the wall and lead forward, resting your head on the pillow. This pose releases tension in the legs and hips and sends blood to the brain to help alleviate headaches and stress.
4 – Reclining Twist Pose: Lay on your back and bend one leg into your chest and then across your body while the other leg remains extended along the ground, repeating this with your other leg as well. This twist can help relieve tension from your spine and your day ad can aid in digestion.
5 – Reclining Butterfly Pose: Lay on your back with your legs bent and your palms facing the ceiling. Alternatively, you may place your right hand over your heart and your left hand over your stomach. Allow your bent legs to fall open against the floor while the soles of your feet touching, creating a diamond shape with your lower body. This pose relieves tension in the hips and legs while encouraging you to focus on calm breaths.
Are you interested in learning more about yoga for insomnia and which yoga poses and meditations can help you sleep better? Consider reading Yoga for Insomnia: 7 Steps to Better Sleep with Yoga and Meditation.