With the stress and responsibility of our modern lives, many people are suffering from insomnia. If you’re not suffering from insomnia, you may wake up periodically throughout the night. You may not make it to the deep resting stages that are essential to keeping you mentally and physically healthy. Yoga has many benefits and one of them has been proven to improve sleep quality.
A new study has said that yoga can help improve sleep for people who can’t sleep at night. So how does yoga work on the body to allow the mind to relax enough so you can sleep?
One of the main reasons we don’t get to sleep or stay asleep at night is because of stress. Our bodies are in turmoil and our minds can’t shut down. Yoga is extremely beneficial in reducing stress. It works at the deepest level to reduce cortisol which causing the body to stay in constant tension. The mindfulness aspects of yoga teach you how to train your mind. The ego mind constantly frets about what wasn’t done throughout the day or what must be done tomorrow. This can be keeping you up at night. When you learn how to quiet that down, you become more at peace. Yoga gives you all the tools to shut down the mind as well as relax the systems that are causing you to stay awake at night.
Yoga and the Central Nervous System
Your central nervous system is responsible for how the body and mind reacts to stress. It is your fight or flight response system and it’s responsible for hyperarousal. This is something that many insomniacs suffer from. Their body is ready for danger because of the stress occurring in their life. It isn’t easy to shut that down. You may want to sleep but you’re nervous system is on guard.
Yoga has been shown to get you back to homeostasis faster than people who don’t do any yoga. Your parasympathetic nervous system is the part of you that rests and digests. Yoga helps to activate this part of your nervous system, which helps you to go to sleep and stay rested throughout the night. This is important for insomniacs or for those who have restless sleep.
Yoga Sets a Bedtime Routine
Just like when you’re a child, it’s important that you have a bedtime routine. Yoga should be a part of that as it can be really helpful in the preparation of sleeping. Do some relaxing yin before you head to bed. This allows you to take in the benefits of the breath and poses that put you in a relaxed state of mind. Decide when you’ll begin and make sure it’s alignment with the time you plan to shut out the lights.
When you start preparing for sleep by doing things that promote relaxation, you’ll give yourself the chance to sleep. Watching TV or being on your phone before bed only keeps your brain stimulated. Do yoga instead.
Yoga Quiets the Mind
It’s frustrating when you can’t sleep because your mind won’t shut down. You’re tired but with ruminating thoughts going around your head, you cause tension in the body. As yoga calms the central nervous system down, it also helps quiet the mind. Even if you can’t sleep, you can get up and do a few poses which will help relax the mind. Follow it up with some mindful meditation and take note of how tired you feel. Also, meditation is almost as good as sleeping.
When you reduce the stress going on in your body, it sends messages to your brain - messages like, “It’s okay to relax and not worry”. Getting on top of those thoughts are really important. It’s what we call being in our higher state of consciousness. Yoga and meditation can help you master this ability so you’re only thinking about the present.
The Harvard Medical Journal released a study about the benefits of yoga and how it can help you sleep. There is scientific evidence that yoga gives us the tools to change the state of our sleep. This is true for even the most challenging cases of insomnia. If you have a hard time sleeping or don’t experience restful sleeps, start doing yoga before. It’s a change of habit that can change your life sometimes. Give yoga a chance to change how you sleep.
You’ll enjoy having more energy and clarity of mind. Your life will be enhanced because you are capable of doing far more during the day. You also don’t dread your alarm clock. You embrace every morning and jump out of bed. Not only will you have a great sleep but you’ll begin to see positive changes in your whole day.
This guest blog was written by Meera Watts, a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali).
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