A good night’s sleep is vital for physical as well as mental health. Owing to an unhealthy lifestyle and hectic daily routine, a number of people today suffer from sleep-related problems. The prevalence of these issues also suggests that people underestimate the importance of sleep.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 50 to 70 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep disorders.
Here are a few common reasons that may lead to sleep troubles:
- Lifestyle choices
- Disturbances in the surrounding
- Change in location
- Side effect of medication
- Physical discomfort or pain
When poor sleep is a regular occurrence, it can take a toll on your mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress. It may even lead to depression in the long run.
Dependency on sleeping pills is not a healthy, long-term solution for sleep-related issues. Other than having possible side effects, sleeping pills are addictive. Your body may become used to them, and soon you will find it impossible to go to sleep without medication.
Fortunately, there are a number of safe and easy solutions that can help you sleep better at night.
Yoga is an effective natural approach to ensure sound sleep. This traditional form of meditation and exercise therapy helps calm and relax your body so that you can easily go to sleep with a peaceful state of mind.
Yoga Poses that Promote Sound Sleep
Here are some great yoga poses that will allow you to sleep better.
Note: It’s best to perform these poses on a soft carpet or yoga mat to reduce strain on your body.
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This simple yoga pose will help you drown out the voices and concerns of the outside world so that you can concentrate on your own thoughts and energies. Child’s Pose has a calming effect on the entire body.
Balasana helps to stretch and relieve the tension in the muscles of the lower back, hips, and thighs.
It also helps release stress, one of the main causes of poor sleep.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and hands on the floor.
- Touch your big toes together.
- Take in deep breaths and slowly exhale. Focus on your breathing as you let all worries and thoughts slip away.
- Exhale and slowly lower your upper torso.
- Rest your upper body on your thighs and let your forehead touch the floor.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you, keeping them in line with your shoulders, and place your palms flat on the floor.
- Maintain this position for up to 1 minute.
- Do this once daily before going to bed.
2. Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana)
The Standing Forward Fold Pose is another yoga pose that involves stretching. It helps relieve stiffness in your back, hips, and thigh muscles while freeing your mind from stress and anxiety.
This is an essential part of the Sun Salutation Pose or Surya Namaskar.
- Stand up straight, with your hands by your side and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take in a deep breath as you slowly raise your hands toward the ceiling.
- Exhale while slowly bending your upper body from your hip joints and swan dive forward.
- Keeping your knees straight or with a slight micro bend, try your best to touch your toes. Let your head be heavy and relax your neck.
- Maintain this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Inhale as you lift your arms up and around. Lead with the chest as you rise and come up to stand.
- Exhale and relax your arms by your side.
- Repeat this procedure 5 to 10 times for a restful sleep.
3. Seated Forward Fold Pose (Paschimottanasana)
Another effective yoga exercise for a good night’s sleep, the Seated Forward Fold Pose can be performed right before you go to bed.
It helps stretch the back, shoulders, and hamstrings, thus releasing tension and relaxing your body.
- Sit on the floor, keeping your back upright.
- Stretch your legs out in front of you, keeping them together and flex your feet.
- Maintain the position so that your body forms a 90 degree angle.
- Take a deep breath and raise your arms toward the ceiling.
- Exhale and slowly bend from your waist, keeping your arms stretched out.
- Continue bending down until your fingertips touch your toes.
- Stretch out your upper body, including your head, neck, and side body.
- Stay in this position for 1 to 3 minutes.
- Inhale and slowly raise your upper body back to its original position.
- Exhale as you relax your arms.
- Repeat the process 10 to 12 times for a restful, long night’s sleep.
4. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This pose is highly effective for those suffering from insomnia. It helps increase the blood flow to your heart, enabling you to relax and sleep better.
- Place a lightly padded mattress, blanket, or yoga mat on the floor next to a sturdy wall or door. You may place a pillow or cushion under your hips for comfortable positioning.
- Lie down and practice deep breathing.
- Exhale, bend your knees, and slowly move your legs up on the wall while keeping your spine in a neutral position.
- Place your arms by your sides with palms facing up and stretch your legs upward.
- Take deep breaths for 10 minutes.
- To release this position, bend your knees.
- Turn your entire body sideways and rest on your side using your arm as a pillow for your head. Take a few deep breaths and then slowly come to a seated posture.
5. Cat and Cow Poses (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)
A combination of the Cat and Cow Poses can aid in releasing the tension in your back and help you sleep better.
These poses can be particularly helpful when you find it hard to fall asleep due to an achy, sore back.
- Come into a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the floor.
- Place your knees hip-width apart and your wrists directly below your shoulders.
- For the Cow Pose, inhale as you drop your belly and gaze at the upper portion of the wall in front of you, stretching your head and tailbone upward.
- For the Cat Pose, exhale and gradually move your chin toward your chest and relax your tailbone towards the floor. Reach your mid-back up toward the ceiling.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times and then finish with Child’s Pose.
6. Supine or Lying-Down Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
This yoga pose helps improve circulation and eases the tension in your spine and neck. It also helps improve digestion.
This pose, which includes a reclined twisting position, can easily be practiced in bed before going to sleep.
- Lie down on your back and stretch out your arms so that they are in line with your shoulders. Palms face open.
- Keeping your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees.
- Bring your heels closer to your hips and take a deep breath.
- Exhale and slowly lower your knees to the left side, until your left knee touches the floor.
- Turn your head to the right.
- Maintain this position for about 1 minute then return to the starting position.
- Repeat the steps with the opposite side.
- Perform the whole cycle 4 to 6 times on each side.
You can rest your knees on a yoga block on either side, instead of releasing them to the floor.
7. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This pose should ideally be practiced at the end of your “before-bed” yoga session. In fact, no yoga session is complete without the Corpse Pose.
It is an extremely easy position that helps relax the entire body. As you take deep breaths, it clears your mind of all the stress. You learn to simply let go, and as a result, you are rewarded with a good night’s sleep and a calm mind.
Practicing this pose on a regular basis lowers your blood pressure and heart rate as well.
- Lie down on your back on a semi-hard surface (you may use a neck pillow).
- Place your legs apart (at a comfortable distance) and relax.
- Keep your arms at your sides, at a slight distance from your body with the palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and direct your thoughts inward.
- Inhale deeply and slowly exhale, relaxing your body as you do so.
- Let go of your body completely and relax your breathing.
- Slowly open your eyes. Go straight to bed for a good night’s sleep.
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