If you easily get to sleep each night and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to experience the joys of a new day, count yourself among the lucky! A recent report from the Sleep Journal reveals that over 75 million Americans complain of insomnia and interrupted sleep patterns, such as, “difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, waking up too early, and/or non-restorative sleep.” In fact, it was also reported that within the last 10 years, there has been a three-fold increase in the prescription rate of sleep medications.
Failing to get a good night’s sleep can ruin your day. In addition to fatigue, sleep deprivation contributes to traffic accidents and work errors. It has also been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety, and some types of cancer.
The good news is that yoga may be able to help! According to a recent article in Yoga Journal several studies, including one from the National Institute of Health, indicate that regular yoga practice significantly reduces the common causes of insomnia, which are: anxiety, depression and stress. One study showed that yoga can reduce the prevalence of night time cognitive arousal. That is the phenomenon that makes it difficult to calm your mind before going to sleep and during periods of night time wakefulness. Furthermore, these studies brought to light that evening yoga practice is especially effective for those who experience interrupted sleep.
The editors of Yoga Journal have a few suggestions for how to tackle the problem of insomnia through your yoga practice:
- Begin each day with yoga, it may be meditative or more strenuous. Even if you had a sleepless night, that should help you regain your daily focus and ultimately change the pattern.
- Throughout the day make mindful choices in regard to foods, activities and interactions with others.
- Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes each day outside, in a natural setting.
- Try to have dinner 1 hour earlier than usual.
- Limit alcohol, cigarettes and stimulating medications.
- Avoid overly rousing evening activities such as books or programs with disturbing content or too much screen time.
- End your day with a gentle yoga routine that incorporates calm breathing practices and meditation.
Should you awaken during the night, relax with breath awareness exercises and visualize a better tomorrow.
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