Poor sleep quality can affect every aspect of your life. You may initially notice that your mood has altered and that you have become more irritable or emotional than normal. Your ability to concentrate wavers, damaging your decision-making and task completion at work and in your personal life. Long-term sleep deprivation can cause physical health problems, such as a weakened immune system, lower fertility rate and an increased chance of cardiovascular issues.
But you can make a change. Introducing yoga to your routine is a small but effective step on the journey to improved sleep. Breathe Yoga can create custom 1-to-1 sessions that focus on the elements of yoga conducive to sleep, including carefully selected poses, breathing and mindfulness. That’s not something you’ll stumble upon at your local yoga centre.
How Does Yoga Enhance Sleep Quality?
The diaphragmatic breathing and extended exhalation practised during yoga help to stimulate the vagus nerve. This is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system and is responsible for many unconscious bodily processes, notably the relaxation response linked to sleep. Introducing yoga and focused breathing to your routine will facilitate rest by lowering your heart rate and inducing the state of tranquillity required for sleep.
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally focusing on thoughts, sounds, feelings and emotions in the present moment. Yoga creates the perfect environment for this process, cultivating a deeper connection and understanding of the self. Engaging in mindfulness exercises has been linked to reduced levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. In turn, lowered stress and anxiety encourage better sleep quality.
Mindfulness can also increase melatonin levels. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps to regulate your sleep cycle. Levels spike during the evening, instructing your body to rest.
There is a significant correlation between lower rates of exercise and poor sleep quality. Participating in moderate exercises such as yoga or Pilates three times per week can improve sleep duration and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It may take several weeks before you experience the calming effects of regular exercise, so patience and perseverance are required.
Losing weight may not be your primary focus when taking up yoga, although it can be an unexpected benefit. Regular exercise naturally results in slimming, which could enhance sleep health. Studies have found that a reduction in body fat helps to improve sleep quality, regardless of age or gender.
Yoga Poses To Practise Before Bed
Commonly known as the ‘legs up the wall’ pose, Viparita Karani can help your body to wind down and calm your mind. Ancient spiritual texts suggest that the pose can cure almost all ailments, including grey hair and fertility issues. Although these claims may be somewhat exaggerated, most modern teachers agree that Viparita Karani has the power to induce a restful state of mind, conducive to sleep.
Practising the pose: Sit on the floor facing a wall. Lie back with your head and shoulders firmly against the floor then slowly stretch your legs up the wall. Adjust your position by moving your tailbone closer to the wall. The goal is for your body to form an ‘L’ shape, however, you should work towards this slowly, listening to your body and remaining comfortable at all times.
Relax your arms beside your body with your palms facing upwards. Settle into the pose and breathe deeply for at least ten minutes. To come out of the pose, bend your knees and roll onto your side.
Savasana, or corpse pose, is practised at the end of almost all yoga sessions. On the surface, the pose seems simple, although some find it extremely challenging as it requires a conscious and present mind. Savasana is used to unwind both physically and mentally, allowing each breath to lengthen as you focus on the present moment. During this time, the stress hormone cortisol is metabolised by the body and brain activity is restored to a balanced state. Spending ten minutes in Savasana before bed may help to improve sleep quality over time.
Book A Consultation With Breathe Yoga
If you struggle to get to sleep or only benefit from a few hours per night, it’s time to make a change. Breathe Yoga offers private yoga, Pilates and mindfulness classes anywhere in London in person and anywhere in the world online.
All classes are tailored to suit your ability, experience and personal targets. To find out more, call 020 8452 8322 or complete our online enquiry form.