Sheep Dreams! Yoga for better sleep
Fed up with counting sheep?
Worried about not getting enough sleep? You’re not alone. In the 2016 UK Sleep Survey (conducted by Dreams), 63.1% of people reported feeling unhappy with the amount of sleep they were getting. The survey also noted that anxiety may be a key factor in sleep quality with 74% of people admitting that they actively worried about not getting a good night’s sleep.
The good news for those who do suffer from anxiety, whether sleep related or due to other reasons, is that yoga has a range of tools and techniques that can help. A regular yoga practice can help contribute to reduced anxiety, improve your ability to relax and help contribute towards better quality sleep on a more regular basis.
How does yoga help sleep?
Yoga focuses on deep breathing, stretching, movements that release muscle tension, bringing concentration on what is happening in your body and mindfulness techniques. These enable you to fully focus on the here and now and not worry about things that have gone before or will happen later. All of these actions combined have a powerful effect on triggering the body’s relaxation response. The body’s automatic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic nervous system is the one that triggers a ‘fight-or-flight’ response and is important for being able to react in genuine ‘fight-or-flight’ situations. Unfortunately for many people they are operating in this mode for more time than is necessary, resulting in chronic stress and anxiety.
By contrast, focusing on the parasympathetic nervous system to be able to fully relax and rest, is something that many people have lost the ability to do. Yoga enables you to reconnect with this relaxation response and assists being able to fully rest and relax. The ability to learn to breathe fully in yoga, with full belly breathing, can create a shift from the chronic stress mode to a more relaxed alertness where you are calm in both body and mind.
Commitment to a regular yoga practice
Through regular practice, yoga can increase the amount of time you are able to trigger your relaxation response. This can then contribute to increased concentration, reduced anxiety, and best of all, improved sleep.
It’s my belief that everyone can practice yoga and if you’re suffering from sleep problems, it may be worth giving it a try.
In my next post I share with you a short 15-20 minutes sequence you can do either before bed or even in bed if you’d like to nod off straight afterwards.