Everything You Need to Know About Yoga for Sleep
Whether you struggle with chronic insomnia or just the occasional bout of tossing and turning, a restless night's sleep can be detrimental to your daily productivity. Not to mention your health and well-being. Hands up if you’ve tried sleep supplements that leave you waking up groggy or (gasp!) cutting back on your beloved caffeine… but still can’t sleep?
Maybe you’ve even lessened your exposure to blue light before bed and committed to a consistent sleep schedule, but nothing seems to alleviate your busy mind at night. Simply put, you need to relax and get some dang sleep!
Did you know that people use yoga for insomnia? That’s right. If you haven’t already hopped on the yoga train, now’s the time. Yoga before bed can quiet your mind and calm your body, plus you can even practice yoga earlier in the day and reap the sleep benefits. Oh, and no fancy studio required. You can practice yoga for sleep right in your own bedroom!
Why to try yoga for sleep
Let’s be honest, the appeal of a good night's sleep might make you willing to try anything. But yoga is a safe bet that will cost you nothing to try. It’s been around for, oh, 5,000 years and has been proven to help you let go of everything you’ve been holding onto physically and mentally all day. Yoga before bed:
- Promotes relaxation
- Reduces anxiety
- Helps digestion
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces stress
In addition to these benefits, when you practice yoga for sleep, you’re incorporating slow, controlled breathwork which also helps you quiet your mind and enter a relaxed state. Yoga is an excellent addition to your bedtime routine if you've been struggling to catch some Z’s naturally.
Yoga before bed or earlier in the day?
The good news is that both can have sleep benefits! It’s well-known that regular exercise is an important piece of the sleep puzzle. If you prefer more rigorous yoga, you can try Ashtanga, Vinyasa or hot yoga, since these are moderate to high effort forms of exercise. Just remember, you should do this type of yoga (and all high-energy exercise) at least a few hours before bedtime so your body and its hormone production has time to recover.
However, if you’re truly looking to add yoga to your bedtime routine, opt for a gentler practice, like Hatha yoga, which involves a lot of breathwork. Any type of restorative or gentle yoga can be a good starting point
Yoga poses to try before bed
Right, so what are the actual yoga poses for sleep? More good news – there tons! And, many are beginner friendly or have modifications you can try if needed. Here are three of our favorites:
- Thread the Needle Pose
- Reclined Twist
- Modified Savasana
Sleeping Butterfly, Waterfall, Happy Baby… these are other well-known yoga poses for sleep and don’t these names just sound sleep-inducing?! However, since we’re the organic mattress experts and not certified yoga instructors, you may want to check out this very thorough article with instructions and images.
Not a natural yogi? Not a problem!
If yoga doesn’t come naturally to you, you’re not alone. Even the most athletic person or gym rat who hasn’t prepared their body for the mobility that yoga requires needs practice. Trust us, yoga for sleep is worth the learning curve. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Be present and accept what is. It takes work to quiet the mind. Actively try hard to do so and enjoy your “me” time.
- Know that you will get better with time. Don’t be disappointed if something doesn’t come easily or if your pose looks different. You’ll get there.
- Focus on your breathing. Be intentional with it. Yoga is about slow, controlled breaths. Breathwork alone can help relieve stress and lead to better sleep.
- Slow down. In a world that is go go go, know that when you’re doing yoga, this is about slowing it down. It may be uncomfortable for you busy-bodies out there but it’s essential to the practice of yoga.
- Begin at the beginning. Start with beginner classes or YouTube videos. Everyone was a beginner once and, even as a beginner, you can benefit a lot from the practice of yoga.
Yoga is for more than just sleep
Even if you don’t struggle with insomnia, yoga is still worth trying. It has an immense amount of benefits that go beyond helping prepare your body for rest. Some of these are:
- Improving strength – Considering yoga is all about using your muscles to get in positions and hold yourself in those positions, it challenges you to get stronger the more you practice.
- Increasing flexibility – For those with a desk job or who don’t ever stretch, yoga is an excellent way to work/maintain your mobility.
- Improving balance – If you’ve seen someone do yoga, you might think that it looks easy until you try to get into a pose and realize it takes practice and balance. Relax, the more you practice, the better your balance.
- Relieving stress – Yoga uses physical postures that relieve pain and inflammation, spiritual awareness that calms the mind, and mindful presence during breathwork.
If you’re struggling to sleep, you have nothing to lose by grabbing a yoga mat and taking 10 minutes before bed to try to quiet your mind with a bedtime yoga routine like this one. Between this bedtime routine and making sure you’re sleeping on the best mattress ever (ours of course) you will be getting your namaste on in no time. We also have some recs for a sustainable yoga mat (and some other eco-friendly workout gear, too!) Now, go get your yoga on!