The Link Between Yoga And Good Sleep
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In a previous article on SFYogaMag, we covered how sleep is an integral part of good health, alongside exercise and a proper diet. Most, if not all people can attest to the impact of little sleep on how they perform their usual tasks.
The good news is yoga can actually help improve sleeping habits. In fact, Psychology Today published a study by Harvard Medical School that indicates it can even help those who suffer from chronic insomnia.
So how exactly does yoga help improve sleep? Before looking into that, it is important to understand why people end up sleep-deprived in the first place. A lot of times, we take our stress and anxiety to bed wit us, and that’s not a good thing. A blog post on Leesa recommends limiting your bedroom activities through avoiding things light emitting devices and trying to refrain from tossing and turning in bed. However, this is usually easier said than done, because it can be very difficult to let go of our problems, and this can keep us from sleeping soundly at bedtime.
Aside from this issue, insomniacs are also likely to suffer from hyperarousal. An article on DOYOUYOGA explains this as an elevation of the “fight or flight” response, which remains activated even if the circumstance that triggered it in the first place has already come and gone. This is the reason why it can sometimes be difficult to fall asleep even if you already feel physically exhausted, because your mind remains awake because of hyperarousal.
Practitioners can attest to how the meditative aspects of yoga helps to calm the mind, which in turn provides better control in terms of anxiety and emotions, as well as the thoughts that are racing around our brain. This makes it easier to prepare the mind and the body for rest.
Yoga also helps relieve aches and pains. Yoga Journal says that yoga can help ease physical discomforts that may contribute to your difficulty in sleeping. The article even suggests that yoga can help bring relief to pregnancy-related body pains, which can be a big relief to expecting moms who find it difficult to get some rest.
However, while yoga has boundless benefits, it’s also worth noting that there are some types of yoga that may actually increase your alertness, which is obviously the last thing you want to happen at bedtime.
Art of Living suggests against performing either the Bhastrika Pranayama or the Sudarshan Kriya in the evening, as both will boost your energy. Furthermore, as with other exercises, it is not advisable to do your yoga workout a few hours before sleeping, as doing so can also wake you up. If you want to play safe, a good option is to perform breathing exercises and meditation at night. Alternatively, you can perform the movements that will require you to hold your pose for a period of time to help you relax.