In Pursuit of the Best Sleep Ever: Yoga Before Bed
My name is Lauren Bowling and I'm a writer and blogger. I write about money, travel and wellness, and I am always working. I've partnered with Mattress Firm to try out some of the tips and tricks I've seen out there for better sleep…and give you the inside scoop on whether they really work. Check out my first post on the 4-7-8 breathing trick.
A few years ago, I exclusively practiced yoga a few times a week as my “exercise regimen." I'm no stranger to the benefits yoga can provide, but I'd never heard of using it as a way to induce sleep. De-stressing technique? Yes. Better for sleep? Not a clue.
But upon diving deeper, it makes sense. Although yoga is known for stretching and building muscle and flexibility, certain yoga poses are actually extremely restorative. Inversions, or when your heart is above your head, gives your cardiovascular system a much needed break. This can deepen your breathing and help induce sleep.
The idea for this section of the series came from this article, which I was intrigued by because it offers a done-for-you 15 minute yoga routine that promises to give the reader, “a good night's sleep." Given that I am in pursuit of that very thing, I felt this was the routine for me to try.
What Happened When I Tried Yoga For Before Bed
With my background in yoga, I was familiar with the poses, but I believe a novice can do them with ease. They're restorative poses, meaning instead of muscle work it's gentle stretching.
Most of the poses in this sequence are centered around getting your hips to relax, which makes sense. On our bodies, our hips often take the biggest beating each day due to prolonged hours of sitting at desk jobs. Depending upon your hip flexibility, some of the poses can feel intense, but for me, most of the moves provided welcome relief. There's a difference between an intense stretching sensation and pain, so if at any time you experience pain or discomfort, ease off.
I particularly enjoyed “legs up the wall," which is when you sit with your bottom flush against the baseboard with your legs leaning against the wall while laying flat on your back. This is one of the easiest moves to do — you're literally just laying on the floor— but the benefits are pronounced. It's also good for getting blood and oxygen back into those hips muscles that have been so cramped up all day. If you can't tell, I'm a big fan of yoga before bed. But did it affect my sleep?
Yoga Before Bed = Deeper Sleep
When doing my night yoga routine, I was anxious about doing everything right, so I didn't feel sleepy until I completed the “legs up the wall" portion as my final resting pose. After just a minute or two of this, I felt calm, ready for sleep and I didn't have any trouble falling into it.
I awoke in the morning from a deeper-than-normal sleep and I noted a reduced soreness in my arms and legs. My hips, which I normally stretch in the morning due to tightness, also felt fabulous. I can attest that yoga for sleep definitely helped me sleep better and wake up feeling better.
My biggest challenge with the “hacks" I'm trying in this series is incorporating the ones I like into an overall sleep routine that doesn't take up an hour of my time. Yoga is easy to remember, but hard to practice each night. Each night I make an attempt to stretch before bed, I find I sleep better and wake more rested.
Even if you're skeptical about the yoga itself contributing to a better slumber, I still recommend giving it a try. At minimum, you're taking a few minutes to de-stress with yoga poses for sleep and be kind to your body before bed, which I'm sure helps with overall sleep hygiene.