Yoga is more than just a way of exercising and keeping your body fit, it is a great tool for life in general. With the busy lifestyles most of us tend to lead, it is important that we are not only considering our nutrition and exercise as part of living healthy but also the quality and quantity of sleep we are getting. Poor sleep quality can lead to lowered attention span or inability to focus, moodiness, and even poor food cravings and choices.
If you are having trouble sleeping well, perhaps it is time to give yoga a try. These eight surprising ways that yoga improves your sleep quality may give you enough reason!
1. Creates a Routine
By regularly engaging in yoga, whether that is three times a week or every day, you will be getting your body and mind on a schedule. This predictability will tell your body when it is time to slow down and work on the strength and focus required to practice the poses and adjust the breathing. When we have a routine in our lives it does give us some calm, which in turn allows for a better overall sleep quality. Having a routine or schedule of yoga ties in with this tightly, therefore helps you get that important slumber you need.
2. Increases Blood Flow/Circulation
Most people do not realize that poor circulation or blood flow throughout your body can dramatically affect your sleep quantity and quality. In fact, poor circulation can sometimes lead to sleep apnea, which is when your sleep is disturbed by frequent spells of not breathing. (Web MD, 2016) This serious condition can even be fatal in some cases, which explains just how important good blood flow and circulation really is.
In practicing yoga, you engage in movement that tests you to push a little farther and hold your body in a way that encourages your blood vessels to open. This opening of blood vessels allows your circulation to flow more freely and at a more regular pace. Each of your limbs will receive the proper amount of circulation, preventing cold hands or feet, or tingling in the legs or arms. The blood carries oxygen and this oxygen allows you to sleep more restfully at night.
3. Brings Calm and Relaxation to Your Life
It goes without saying that most people feel their lives are busy and somewhat stressful. While we all experience stress differently and can handle various degrees, stress no matter how little, can disrupt your overall sleeping patterns. This disruption means the quality of your sleep goes way down.
With yoga in your life, you are taking that time away from the hectic schedules and demands of everyday life to breathe and focus on your movements. In the practice of yoga, you can incorporate meditation which works on the mind and soul while the actual yoga poses work on the physical parts of your body. Yoga can restore your mental health, creating a calmer mind and more relaxed muscles, which allows you a better, more sound sleep at night.
4. Improves Flexibility
Surprisingly, being more flexible with your muscles and tendons means you will feel more comfortable in your bed, therefore enjoying better quality sleep overall. If you find that you are frequently tossing and turning to find a comfortable position or if you are waking up in the morning with aches and pains, then yoga could help eliminate these issues with increased flexibility. You will be stretching and pushing the stretch a little farther each time and testing your own boundaries at the same time. With loose muscles and tendons, your body will become more adaptable to different laying positions in bed.
5. Helps with Weight Loss
Although it is up for debate, yoga can help people to lose unwanted pounds if practiced regularly. Those who are within an ideal weight for their frame tend to sleep better since there is less strain and pressure points on specific body parts as they lay down. Along with weight loss, you may snore less since there will be less strain put on your air passages and chest. Less snoring means better breathing while sleeping and translates to a better night’s sleep.
6. Chases Away the Blues
The practice of yoga has been known to elevate your mood using deep breathing techniques and the slow, deliberate poses. Along with the physical ways yoga elevates your mood, it also works to increase the levels of serotonin in your brain chemistry. With these increased levels of serotonin, you can better fight off depression which allows for better quality sleep.
7. Encourages Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing
While we sleep it is very difficult to control how we are breathing, whether through our nose or mouth. However, you will find that you will tend to breathe one way over another throughout the day. Mouth breathing is usually more shallow and rapid versus through the nose. Mouth breathing can also cause asthma attacks in those with the condition since it dries out the lungs and air passages.
If you practice yoga, there is a greater emphasis on breathing through your nose in a controlled, relaxed manner. By practicing on a regular basis, you will find that soon it will become second nature and without a thought, you will simply breathe through your nose, including in your sleep. You will sleep better, have less risk of infections entering your body and have better body temperature control.
8. Significantly Reduces Cortisol Levels
Cortisol, a hormone which our body secretes when we experience fear or stress, is a factor in many people who experience frequent insomnia and those who don’t get a good night’s sleep. Yoga practices help reduce this hormone in your body, therefore allowing you to sleep much better. You may not even be aware that your cortisol levels are high, just that you aren’t sleeping well. Yoga can help with this and give you a quality of sleep you may not have had before.
While we hear about the many great things yoga can do for our lives and bodies, it is amazing the little things we take for granted that can be helped with yoga, such as our sleep. It is important to keep in mind that yoga isn’t a quick fix, or a fix all. It should be practiced regularly to experience the maximum benefits and enjoyment. And as with any type of exercise, speak with your doctor about your own health to see if yoga is appropriate for you.
Do you feel like you need to get away from it all and experience true relaxation before beginning anew with more energy? A yoga and wellness retreat is the perfect place for you in this case.