Yoga for good sleep
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
I love my bed! I have always loved my bed. My mum tells a story of when I was a toddler & slept so deeply she could pull out my bed & vacuum around me without waking me up. My husband thought this was an exaggeration until I was pregnant with our first baby & he did the same one afternoon, while I was napping, without me stirring at all!
When I was at University I went through a period of terrible insomnia which resulted in my first foray in to yoga & meditation. Since having the kids sleep has become a precious & at times scarce resource. So here are my tips & tricks for better sleep:
1) Limit napping in the day. When you feel completely wrecked from lack of sleep try to resist having a big afternoon nap. Limit it to 20 minutes maximum. If I manage to have the luxury of a nap I find it pushes my bedtime back & I have trouble falling asleep so I always try to power through (no caffeine either! – see 2)).
2) Avoid stimulants (caffeine & nicotine). These will disrupt your sleep patterns. If you are having severe trouble getting to sleep then try to cut caffeine out all together.
3) Do some aerobic exercise to make sure you are tired but not too close to bedtime as it can be quite energising.
4) Avoid heavy & fatty food at night which is difficult to digest. Have your main meal in the middle of the day & a light one in the evening.
5) Get out & get some daylight. This helps you reset your body clock/circadian rhythms.
6) Avoid screens before bed. Blue light from screen disrupts your brain chemistry & suppresses melatonin production which prevents you from being able to sleep. Avoid screens for at least 90 mins before bed.
In addition to the tips above try to set up a regular bedtime routine to send cues to your body that it’s time to sleep. This might include listening to relaxing music, having a warm bath or shower, drinking a cup of herbal tea or hot milk, reading a book (paper not electronic) and then turning out the light.
Set up a comfortable sleeping environment; make sure it is cool, not too hot, with a little bit of fresh air. Try black out blinds & have low/dim lighting in your room before bed.
Make sure your feet aren’t too hot or too cold. Either will stop you falling asleep easily.
Take a gentle herbal supplement like valerian hops to make you drowsy & a magnesium supplement 30 minutes before bed. Magnesium is an amazing mineral! It stops restless/jittery legs & cramps often felt at night and helps sleep. Valerian hops are proven herbal remedy to promote sleep.
Practice a meditation or relaxation exercise before bed.
Practicing a gentle restorative yoga practice before bed. Try this one
Trataka meditation is a great practice which stimulates melotonin production & release. Light a candle, turn out the lights & sit in a comfortable position with the candle at eye-height. I sit on a cushion on the floor with the candle on the edge of a table. Gaze at the candle for a few minutes & then close your eyes so you can see the flame imprint on your eye lids. Wait for it to fade. Open your eyes & gaze again. Do this for 8-10 minutes for optimum results. In the winter, I sit & gaze at the fire.
Yoga Nidra – practice this specially designed yoga nidra with a sankalpa or intention specifically to fall asleep! Put it on repeat & even if you don’t fall asleep straight away you will at the very least get some rest.