We live in a fast-paced world that often leads to over scheduling and high stress. You may be among those who find themselves chronically sleep deprived, which means you regularly get less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Developing and sticking to a bedtime yoga routine might be what you need to unwind at night and prepare your mind and body to get the rejuvenating rest your body craves.
Why do you need so much sleep?
The body performs vital functions while you sleep. During the day, your energy reserves are taken up with everything from critical thinking and basics tasks to problem-solving skills and digestion. While you sleep, all those activities cease, which allows your body to expend that energy elsewhere. The brain cleans itself while pruning and strengthening connections made during the day. The immune system goes to work and reduces inflammation while your body repairs and rebuilds any damaged muscle tissue.
However, getting the rest you need can be difficult. Stress, an unpredictable work schedule, or certain medical conditions can make it tough to get the shut-eye you need. That’s where a good bedtime yoga routine can make all the difference. Yoga reduces inflammation, boosts mood, and can help relieve stress-related tension that builds throughout the day.
How can I fit yoga into my bedtime routine?
The mind and body love a good routine. In fact, the body runs on regular routines call circadian rhythms that control your sleep cycle. When you consistently perform a bedtime yoga routine, you’re supporting those rhythms and helping yourself get better (and more) sleep.
- Eliminate Another Activity: If you’re adding something to your bedtime routine, like yoga, it makes sense to eliminate something else. Many people watch television, surf the internet, or watch Youtube videos before going to bed. The bright, blue light from these devices can actually send your brain the wrong signal, making it think it’s time to stay awake. Replacing your TV time with a yoga routine can help support your circadian rhythms and let you get better sleep.
- Start Your Bedtime Routine Earlier: You can get changed into your pajamas, brush your teeth, and spend 10-15 minutes doing a few yoga poses at your bedside before crawling into bed for the night. To make sure you’re still getting all the rest you need, start your routine a few minutes earlier than normal. Try twists to target back tension and be sure to end on a relaxing pose like child’s pose or corpse pose after you’ve gotten into bed.
- Do Yoga in Bed: Many gentle yoga routines can be performed from the comfort of your own bed. If you have a firm mattress, your stretch may be similar to that you would receive if you did yoga on the floor. However, if you have a soft mattress, you might not stretch as deeply. That’s okay because you’ll still be able to target your trouble areas and work out tension. You can include deep breathing meditation exercises as well to give yourself time to reflect on the events of your day.
Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She specializes in sleep's role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat.