Whether it’s stress from work, school or a hectic schedule, many of us have trouble winding down and falling asleep each night. Before giving up on getting quality rest, try incorporating meditation or yoga into your nightly routine. More than just beneficial for flexibility, yoga can help reset the body and mind after a long day and prepare you for a great night’s sleep. To learn more about these benefits and the relationship between yoga, meditation and sleep, we spoke with several experts. Here’s what they have to say:
What Are the Positive Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Sleep?
Vidya Shetty- Y01 Health Resort
The yogic practices are aimed at bringing a balance in all the body systems and thereby calm the turbulent mind and help to expel complexes. Rhythmic, deep and slow respiration done during the practices of yoga instills calm, content state of mind. Irregular breathing disturbs the brain and leads to physical, emotional and mental blocks.
This, in turn, leads to inner conflict, imbalanced personality, disordered lifestyle and disease. Yogic practices like Pranayama establish regular breathing patterns, breaking this negative cycle and reversing the process, by taking control of the breath and re-establishing the natural, relaxed rhythms of the body and mind.
Marc Fussell- Take2Minutes
The commonly known benefits of meditation are reduced stress, better sleep, and improved focus. Meditation also creates positive emotions, which help people to build their own personal resources including increased mindfulness, purpose in life, and social support along with decreased illness.
Kyle Greenfield- The Joy Within
Meditation has a powerful, clinically proven ability to help improve sleep quality, while actually reducing the amount of sleep that we need. When you meditate, you train your brain to decrease brainwave activity and increase production of important neurotransmitters, such as GABA and Serotonin. Among other positive impacts (such as increasing overall levels of happiness and feelings of centeredness), these chemicals help you to enter into a deep state of relaxation, even when you are not meditating.
Yoga revives the body by releasing pent up energy and recirculating the breath. It’s like hitting the reset button to help you drift off faster once in bed!
Yoga allows you to self-soothe by reducing stress and reducing cortisol (aka the stress hormone).
Yoga can help unwind the nervous system and shift you from a day of “fight or flight” to a night of “rest and digest” with ease.
What Are Your Tips For Getting A Great Night’s Sleep?
Bhramari pranayama is a method of harmonizing the mind and directing awareness inwards. It is an excellent method of settling the mind and removing gross tensions. Slow, conscious controlled breathing in Pranayama helps in adjusting and activating the circulatory-respiratory complex of the body. It also provides emotional stability.
Here’s one that we call “Fireworks” – imagine looking up at the sky during a fireworks show. The fireworks burst in the air and instead of a pattern, you see a three-digit number. Any number. You pick. Visualize that number and watch it slowly dissipate as it falls towards the ground. And now another firework appears and again, another three-digit number. Visualize that number and watch it slowly dissipate as it falls towards the ground. Keep visualizing fireworks in three-digit numbers until your body takes you into a peaceful sleep.
Tamika Caston Miller- Ashe Yoga
If you find that the mind will not calm, a body scan meditation will give your mind something to do so that you may invite rest. In a body scan meditation, you will draw your awareness to each part of your body attempting to feel it without making any changes.
For example, you’ll notice the toes on your right foot, the sole of your right foot, your right heel, right ankle, and so on. You may move through all of the parts of the body by drawing your awareness to them. Oftentimes practitioners find that they’ve fallen asleep by the time they get halfway though the body.
Yaz Purnell- The Wallet Moth
Personally, I would highly recommend a yin yoga class before bed. Yin is a much slower, more reflective form of yoga consisting of holding seated or supine poses (so you can actually do the class in bed!) for 3 – 5 minutes. It is extremely relaxing and I guarantee I’ll be asleep in minutes after a relaxing yin practice!
We’d like to thank this great panel of yoga and meditation experts for taking the time to weight in on such an important issue of restorative sleep. Try making yoga and meditation a part of your nightly routine and experience the wonderful benefits! If you find yourself still struggling to get quality rest, we recommend checking our list of best hybrid mattresses and the mattress buying guide.
Andrew is a Charlotte, NC native who learned the importance of a good night’s sleep in college after too many late nights in the library. Today, he helps connect Mattress Clarity’s array of resources with people looking to get a better night’s sleep. He enjoys researching the links between sleep and health, nutrition, and exercise as well as finding practical ways for people to improve their sleep quality.