Sleep deprivation has officially become a public health problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With round the clock access to technology and a culture that tends to prioritize work and “efficiency” over health and rest, Americans (and people around the globe) are increasingly sleep deprived. Even worse, insomnia, for those attempting to sleep, is now a common chronic issue.
Lack of sleep, besides leading to the crankiness we remember so well from childhood, can cause or contribute to an array of chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, cancer, and increased mortality. Not to mention the lack of productivity and inability to think clearly that results from sleep loss. Yikes.
Pro Tip: Turn off your cell phone and stop looking at all screens at least one hour before bed. The blue light emitted from screens tricks the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, decreasing the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin and preventing feelings of natural sleepiness.
When we sleep, our body repairs on a cellular level, tissues grow and repair, energy is restored, and our brain receives deep rest. We all know that we should be getting between 6-8 hours of sleep per night. But between work, school, family, and keeping up with the swirl of technology and communication vying for our attention, sleeping 6-8 hours is easier said than done.
Yoga for sleep
If getting adequate sleep is difficult for you and you want to learn how to fall asleep fast, yoga can help. A regular yoga practice is known to cure several ailments, including insomnia and abnormal sleeping habits. Yoga relieves stress and calms the central nervous system, allowing the body to reach a restful state in preparation for sleep and help you sleep better.
One of the best ways to develop healthy sleeping patterns is to establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Before bed, give the following five yoga poses a try. These poses help release any excess stress from the day and calm the mind, allowing for deep, rejuvenating sleep.
Forward Bend (Hastapadasana): Forward Bend stretches the back muscles, invigorates the nervous system by increasing blood supply, and makes the spine supple.
Cat Stretch (Marjariasana): Cat Stretch is an excellent stretch for spine flexibility. This pose helps massage the digestive organs and improve digestion. The posture also improves blood circulation and relaxes the mind.
Child Pose (Shishuasana): Child’s Pose is a deeply relaxing stretch for the back and helps calm the nervous system.
Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana): Butterfly Pose removes fatigue from long hours of standing or walking. This posture provides a stretch for inner thighs, groin and knees.
Legs-up-the-wall Pose (Viparita Karani): Legs-up-the-wall Pose relieves tired legs and feet, helps increase blood supply to the brain, relieving mild headache, and calms the mind.
Sleep experts often point to the efficacy of creating a standard nighttime routine in order to signal your body that it’s time to prepare for sleep. You may choose to include Nadi Shodhan pranayama right before lying down to relieve tension and relax into a peaceful sleep.
Other tips to help you sleep better
The Art of Living Blog offers many tips for using yoga and meditation to enhance quality of your sleep. You can find information in articles throughout our blog. Wishing you a healthy, happy life, we hope you find the peace and rest that are so vitally needed!
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