Everyone lives with a certain degree of stress, though how we manage that stress greatly varies. In fact, when it comes to sleep – the greatest factor affecting our ability to function – it is reported that more than a third of adults sleep less than the recommended 7+ hours. This can result in negative health and emotional problems. After all, sleep is how our body repairs itself, as well as processes thoughts, memories, and emotions. One way to improve sleep and your overall well being is to focus on mindfulness before going to bed. Here are four benefits practicing yoga before bed will provide.
1) Pain Management
Yoga helps to manage pain in many ways, and one of the most fascinating is how it alters the anatomy of our brain which manages our anticipation of pain. The poses and breathing techniques practiced in yoga simultaneously work to release tension from the body triggering the ability to stave off our body’s natural stress response of fight or flight. By doing so, we are better equipped to handle pain.
In addition, the poses and movements of yoga provide a subtle strengthening of the body which helps to stretch the body’s muscles, tendons, and joints, providing a stronger body capable of handling the stressors of everyday life with less strain and inflammation.
Yoga is two-fold when it comes to managing pain by affecting the neurological as well as creating a more limber and injury-resistant body.
2) Insomnia Relief
As noted earlier, more than a third of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. Add to this that 25% of adults suffer from insomnia each year – acute and chronic – and you can imagine how this affects the overall dynamics of home and work. Insomnia is a leading cause of mental health illness leading to stress, anxiety and depression.
Practicing yoga regularly has also been attributed to naturally increased levels of melatonin, which is a hormone that indicates to your body that it is time to go to sleep. In fact, melatonin is so favorable for improved sleep that it is used by millions of people each year as a supplement to induce sleep.
One of the biggest causes of insomnia is the inability to put aside concerns that either happened earlier or we fear that will happen later. Yoga helps to manage these concerns through a technique called mindfulness. Mindfulness helps to put your mind in the now to increase your awareness of the world around you. Focusing on the now helps you realize that worrying about what has already happened does not matter since that cannot be changed, and the future is not easy to predict. By relaxing the body, and practicing mindfulness thought, yoga can help stave off the lingering concerns and fight insomnia. We are always proponents of turning off the phone, but an app like Calm is a great way to have a guided meditation to help you relax for just a few minutes throughout your day.
3) Lower Blood Pressure
The CDC estimates that nearly 75-million Americans suffer from high blood pressure which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Studies show that as little as ten minutes of yoga a day can improve your overall well-being, but as much as an hour each day can actually help to lower blood pressure in people who suffer from prehypertension and hypertension. While research has not been able to clearly pinpoint how yoga improves blood pressure, the combination of stress reduction, light exercise in strenuous poses, and mindfulness seem to provide an excellent health combination
4) Higher Quality Sleep
As we know, yoga helps to stave off the stress-inducing effects of insomnia, but did you know that yoga can also improve your quality of sleep. Sleep deprivation can be caused by several things such as an environment not conducive to sleep and restless leg syndrome. While insomnia prevents you from sleeping, sleep deprivation due to quality of sleep can be just as impactful.
Yoga can improve your overall quality of sleep by actually strengthening the grey matter and pons region of your brain which plays a key role in sleep and dreaming.
Yoga is one of the best ways to lead you into a relaxing night of quality sleep by fighting off chronic and acute insomnia, managing pain and inflammation, and helping your body function the way it is intended.
One final tip, wear something that you love to bed! Setting the mood with some cozy joggers or a buttery soft, oversized top can set you up for a blissful pre-slumber yoga sesh! Our collection of comfy clothing is the perfect place to find womens joggers, tank tops and other sleep essentials featuring your favorite athleisure brands like Spiritual Gangster, Beyond Yoga and much more!
If you want the full relaxation yoga before sleep called “Yoga Nidra” check out this article from Yoga Journal