Yoga for Better Sleep

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Legs up the wall

Sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. And it appears that most of us are not getting enough of it. According to a multi-state survey conducted by the CDC, 35% of American adults are getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night. And even more concerning, 38% of those surveyed reported falling asleep unintentionally during the day at least 1 time in the previous 30 days. Yikes!

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Health

Clearly sleep deprivation poses an immediate risk to your health (such as falling asleep at the wheel and crashing), but lack of sleep over time also increases your risk for chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Research also suggests a strong link between getting less than adequate sleep and a greater risk for obesity.

How to Improve Your Sleep

Most adults require 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Practicing good sleep hygiene can help you improve your sleep quality and length. National Institutes of Health has some great suggestions, including:

  • Have a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Do not vary this by more than an hour on weekends to prevent disrupting your body clock.
  • Keep the hour before bedtime peaceful and relaxing. Do not engage in exercise and avoid artificial light from television and computer screens.
  • Avoid eating too much within a couple hours of bedtime. A light snack is ok.
  • Stay away from caffeine (including coffee, soda, and chocolate) in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Keep your bedroom calm, cool, and dark.
  • Use relaxation techniques before bed to prepare for sleep.

Restorative Yoga for Bedtime

The following restorative yoga sequence is designed to prepare your body for good sleep. It can even be done in bed! Keep the room calm and the lights dim. The addition of soft, relaxing music can be nice. It will take about 20 minutes.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

reclining bound angle
Lay back over stacked pillows or a bolster. Draw your tailbone away from the pillows to make your low back feel long. Connect the soles of your feet and let your knees splay open wide. If your hips are tight, add a pillow under each thigh to support the legs, or extend them straight instead. The addition of an eye pillow or towel can be very grounding, and signal to the brain that sleepy-time is on the way. Hold for 5 minutes.

 

Reclining Twist

reclining twist
Draw your knees towards your chest, and then let them relax to one side. Relax the upper back down and extend the arms open wide, with the palms facing up. Breathe deeply into the belly while twisting to massage the internal organs. Placing a pillow between the knees in this pose helps to stabilize the sacrum and is especially helpful for those with low back issues. Hold for 3 minutes on each side.

 

Child’s Pose

childs pose
Start on your hands and knees, and then bring your big toes together. Widen the knees apart, and release your hips to your heels. Snuggle a pillow or bolster between your thighs and let your chest release onto the prop. Rest your arms on either side of the prop and turn your head to one side. Feel the expansion of your breath against the prop and feel your back body relax on every exhale. Hold for 5 minutes.

 

Legs Up the Wall

legs up the wall
Sit with one hip next to the wall. Turn your torso down towards the floor (or bed) and gently roll onto your back, while swinging your legs up the wall. Scoot your seat as close to the wall as possible. Rest with your arms extended overhead, elbows bent, palms facing up. If this hurts the shoulders, rest your hands on your belly instead. Consider supporting your sacrum with a folded blanket or pillows to raise the hips slightly higher than the chest to increase the inversion benefits of the posture. Hold for 5 minutes.

Comments

  1. looks amazing Jenny!!

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