Getting enough quality sleep is crucial to health and wellbeing. Most health professionals recommend getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night for optimal health and increase longevity. But studies show that 35% of Americans do not sleep well.
We live in a fast paced seemingly ceaseless moving society. Some people even wear their sleep deprivation on their sleeve as a badge of honor. But not getting enough sleep or poor quality of sleep can lead to weight gain, low energy, bad moods, decrease cardiovascular health and decrease cognitive function.
Stress and Fatigue
There are two common types of sleep problems. The first one is difficulty falling asleep. This form of sleep issue is driven mostly by stress. Our mind is so active that we can not quieten it enough to fall asleep.
The other common type of sleep problem is trouble sleeping through the night. This form of sleep issue is driven by deep fatigue. The body is so tired, restless, and depleted that it does not have the energy needed to soothe the nervous system enough to sleep through the night.
Yoga Can Help
Yogic techniques like postures, breathing techniques, and meditation can address both types of sleeplessness. Yoga activates the relaxation response from our parasympathetic nervous system by calming the mind, restoring the body, soothing and balancing the nervous system. This allows the body to relax and sleep. Yoga helps us transition from a busy day to a night of peaceful sleep.
In addition to yoga techniques, creating a bedtime ritual can go a long way in promoting healthy sleep. Here are some suggestions to use to create your own bedtime ritual and align your inner rhythm with nature’s rhythm:
- Have a light and early dinner
- Mind your diet – reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
- Create a wind down time – decrease stimuli (TV, internet, exercise, video games, etc) at least an hour before bedtime to allow the body-mind to slow down and relax.
- Start your bedtime ritual between 8pm -10pm
- Create a peaceful setting to promote sleep- Light candles, take a warm bath/shower, play soothing music, put on Pajamas, remove the TV and computer from the bedroom, make the bedroom dark and a comfortable temperature. Remember to put the candles out before bed or use candles with timers.
- Practice slow, deep breathing. See this week’s Yoga For Better Sleep video below.
- Yogic postures and/or meditation.
- Go to bed at the same time every night.
- Be in bed by 10pm-we tend to get a second wind at 10 pm.
- In the morning, do not linger in bed. Get out of bed as soon as your eyes naturally open – even if its 5:30 am.
- Repeat – Make it a new way of being.
This week’s yoga practice is designed to promote better sleep. Each pose, the breathing technique, and meditation was selected for its individual ability to trigger the body-mind’s relaxation response and for the collective effect on the nervous system. This week’s practice includes:
- Same Vriti (Equal Breath)
- Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
- Supta Padagustasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
- Vparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose)
- Savasana (Relaxation Pose)
- Seated Meditation
Daily Diva Yoga Assignment:
1. Watch the video.
2. Practice the poses and techniques as instructed.
3. Post in the group a pic of you doing one of the poses OR you on your yoga mat.
4. When posting your picture share how the post made you feel.
5. Tag Stephanie Perry-Bush when you post and use hashtag #yoga4divas #blackgirlsdoyogatoo when posting about yoga. (this helps us find the yoga posts easily)
6. Click the video below to get started (if you haven’t already on today’s challenge).
I would encourage you to do these moves right when you awake, or right after your workout, or right before bed, or if all else fails, anytime you can fit it in!
Remember to allow 3-4 hours after a large meal and 2 hours after a light meal before practicing yoga. You have all weekend to work with the practice. Enjoy!
I am a certified yoga teacher. I’ve been teaching yoga since 2001. I am registered with Yoga Alliance at the E-RYT 500 level and as a Continuing Education Provider.
I enjoy educating students about yoga and encouraging their practice. But my biggest joy is watching as students become empowered by the yoga to live from the place of calm and power within.
I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my husband. When I’m not practicing yoga, you’ll find me working out, reading, walking on the beach, cooking, or relaxing.