Yoga and sleep

By Julianne Lewis

Ever have trouble getting to sleep? Or wake up in the middle of the night and can’t return to sleep? How about waking up way too early in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep? Surprisingly enough, you are not alone. More than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic problems of sleep and wakefulness with many remaining undiagnosed. This becomes a problem because it can lead to traffic accidents due to drowsy driving, increased accident risk, and loss of workplace productivity. Mentally loss of sleep can cause you to be less aware, more susceptible to sickness, and even being hungrier.


So, what can you do about your sleep problems? Some people take over the counter sleep aids, some turn to herbal sleep aids, others go to their doctors to get prescription medications. While these options can offer help in the short term, they can have side effects and not be good for your overall health in the long run.


According to Marilyn Wei, MD, yoga is a gentle and restorative way to wind down your day and improve sleep. A national survey found that over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. Over 85% said yoga helped reduce overall stress levels.


The research on yoga for improving sleep is very positive which is not surprising, since yoga combines a number of helpful practices, including physical postures, breathing techniques, deep relaxation, and meditation/mindfulness practice. A study from the journal Biological Psychology tracked subjective sleep quality and hormonal variation in 26 yoga practitioners (with a minimum three years of practice). The results showed that long-term yoga practice is related to better sleep quality and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.


There have been a growing number of studies on how insomnia is affected by mind-body interventions, such as meditation, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy. These types of interventions have been shown to improve insomnia, increasing both the percent of time asleep in bed at night and total sleep time. These practices are included in most yoga classes including here at Be One.


Yoga is the ideal form of exercise as it challenges you physically, bringing physical fatigue that makes our sleep more restful. The meditative side of yoga also allows us to relax and de-stress, making it easier for our minds to wander to sleep at night. A general, day-by-day yoga practice will affect how we feel throughout the day, as well as how our bodies wind down during the evening.

Come to Be One and attend classes to challenge your body, calm your mind, and most of all, improve your sleep!

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