While the advantages of practising yoga are pretty well-known, these benefits seem to grow without end. The latest research has found that yoga isn’t limited to the more widely known benefits of improving flexibility, core strength and reducing stress levels. In fact, doing yoga can also help relieve sleep problems including insomnia, sleep apnoea, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, around 1 in 3 people suffer from at least mild insomnia. However, all hope is not lost – yoga might be the antidote to this predicament. A study published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found that yoga could help relieve chronic insomnia, and researchers from Harvard Medical School found that practising yoga on a daily basis could improve sleep quality and duration, especially for individuals suffering from insomnia.
Other research has revealed that individuals who do yoga before bedtime fall asleep more quickly, sleep for a longer period of time, and are able to return to sleep more quickly after waking up in the middle of the night. A study of 410 cancer survivors also found that participants who practised yoga for 75 minutes twice a week experienced a decrease in fatigue, a reduced need to rely on sleep medication and overall improvement in quality of life.
So what are some recommended poses that you can practice if you’re thinking of trying your hand at yoga before going to bed? It is advised to steer clear of the kind of yoga which are designed to energise you, such as hot yoga and vigorous vinyasa flow, instead of preparing your body for more restful sleep.
Instead, you could try the “Legs Up the Wall” pose, where you lie on your back before hoisting your legs up the wall such that your body is in an L-shaped pose. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and focus on your breathing to relax into the pose. Alternatively, you could try the “Corpse Pose”, which is as intuitive as it sounds. You should lie on your back on the floor and straighten your legs, with your arms by your sides and the palms of your hands facing upwards. As you lay like a “corpse”, take deep breathes and clear your mind to calm yourself before you go to bed. However, this pose can be rather relaxing, especially since it may mirror your usual sleep position, so don’t be surprised if you do actually fall asleep right there and then!
If you’ve tried and exhausted all other methods to induce sleep, then why not give yoga a try? The best part is, you don’t even have to bend over backwards (literally) or pay for yoga classes to master most of the pre-bedtime poses that herald better sleep. A quick check online will show you how simple most of these poses can be!