Having trouble getting to bed? Try these yoga poses to help promote better sleep. For the estimated 70 million adults who experience chronic sleep issues, bedtime yoga may be an effective addition to your nightly routine. Yoga is a mindfulness practice that connects the mind and body through intentional breathing, physical
For the estimated 70 million adults who experience chronic sleep issues, bedtime yoga may be an effective addition to your nightly routine. Yoga is a mindfulness practice that connects the mind and body through intentional breathing, physical postures, and meditation.
In addition to a wide range of other health benefits, research shows that yoga can help improve sleep. Yoga's relaxing and restorative components can be a great way to relieve tension, promote relaxation, and wind down for a good night's rest.
This article provides an overview on the practice of yoga for better sleep, outlines basic poses, and offers tips on making bedtime yoga a regular part of your routine.
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that connects the body, breath, and mind. It combines meditative movements, stretching, breathing, and exercise, which can be beneficial for combatting stress, anxiety, and sleep issues.
One estimate from the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that 59% of surveyed adults in the United States said practicing yoga improved their sleep.
Other studies on specific subpopulations of people have pointed to similar positive results, including in people with chronic conditions, older adults, pregnant people, and people approaching menopause, to name a few.
Experts theorize there are a number of reasons why yoga might help improve sleep. In general, it's thought that the combination of breath awareness, mindfulness, and intentional body movements can help calm the body and mind for a restful night of sleep.
To fully relax, save the heart-pumping hot yoga or vinyasa yoga session for another time. Better styles of yoga to practice pre-sleep include:
Anybody can do—and is welcome to try—yoga, regardless of age, body size, gender, ethnicity, or fitness level.
Research has shown that yoga has the potential to benefit the health of people of all age ranges and improve their sleep. It was found to be particularly beneficial in the following people based on research studies:
Yoga is generally considered to be a safe form of physical activity for most healthy people. But, as with all forms of exercise, check with a healthcare provider before adding to your workout routine, particularly if you are pregnant, have an injury, or have a serious health condition.
Sleep experts have recommended breathing exercises and gentle stretches as part of your nighttime routine to signal your body that it's time to prepare for sleep.
While there isn't one specific yoga pose that’s proven to promote deep sleep, you might consider trying the following poses for up to three to five minutes each just before bedtime to encourage relaxation.
To clear your mind of the day's clutter, start your bedtime yoga practice with basic mindful or yogic breathing.
Conscious changes in your breathing pattern can activate the body's "relaxation response," helping you control stress and anxiety and potentially relieving insomnia.
For nighttime breathwork, practice the following:
To perform the uttanasana pose:
Forward bend is regarded as a relaxing pose that can help relieve sleep disturbances.
In yoga, this pose is known to calm and center you, relieving stress and fatigue. Think of how a "happy baby" joyfully grabs their feet while lying on their back.
This pose involves lying on your back, drawing your knees up alongside your ribs with feet flexed towards the ceiling.
Feel free to use an exercise band or strap to loop over the arch of both feet if your hands aren't able to reach.
To attempt the reclined bound angle pose:
By opening up your pelvic region, this pose can help signal to the body to relax further.
To attempt the supported bridge pose:
This gentle yoga backbend is a restorative pose that helps improve blood circulation. It opens up the front of the spine and chest, further helping calm the mind and reducing stress.
This exercise is a great stress-reliever to end a short yoga sequence.
This pose not only helps with swollen legs and tired feet by increasing blood flow to the core of the body, but it also gently decompresses the spine and provides a stretch to the hamstrings.
To perform the corpse pose:
Traditionally, nearly every yoga class will end with this pose, and it's a great way to end your day.
Vigorous exercise that gets your heart pumping right before bedtime is usually not helpful in helping you fall asleep. But a relaxing yoga sequence anywhere from 30 minutes to immediately before bed helps signal your body that it's time to rest.
In addition to relieving stress and improving sleep, yoga's combined physical postures, breathing exercise, and meditation can help support overall health.
Studies have pointed to yoga's many therapeutic benefits, including the ability to:
It's important to note that most of the current research on yoga in the United States has been conducted in predominantly White, higher-income populations with greater access to this physical activity. Because people from historically marginalized communities are underrepresented in yoga studies and have traditionally faced barriers to equitable health and wellness, these results may not accurately portray benefits or experiences that apply to all.
Ready to start bedtime yoga for the first time? Here are a couple of tips to help guide your practice:
Yoga is an aligned system of breathing, exercise, and meditation. In addition to other health benefits, research shows that yoga can help improve sleep.
Practicing a short, basic sequence of restorative yoga poses just before bed can be a great way to wind down from a busy day, easing tension and relaxing your body so that you can sleep more peacefully on a regular basis.
Consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you are pregnant or have a serious health condition.
While yoga can be a great addition to your daily exercise and mindfulness routine, it's not a substitute for other medical treatments. If you've already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, or if you've recently started experiencing chronic sleep issues, consider checking with a healthcare provider to make sure this practice is right for you. Sleep disorders can sometimes be a sign of another underlying health condition, so getting appropriate medical treatment, if possible, is a priority before adding to your exercise regimen.
Hot yoga (or bikram yoga) is an intense vinyasa flow. It traditionally involves a 90-minute series of 26 poses in a room that's heated anywhere from 95°F to 100°F. The goal is to warm and stretch the body, "detoxifying" through sweat. Check with a healthcare provider if you have questions about starting any exercise that involves extreme temperatures.
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India thousands of years ago. Rooted in Indian philosophy, yoga began as a spiritual practice but has also become a way of promoting physical and mental well-being.
Exercise surfaces like yoga mats can be breeding grounds for bacteria.
Experts recommend using a clean towel to wipe off the mat first, moving in one direction and covering both sides. You can then use a disinfectant spray or wipe to sanitize. Yoga mat materials can vary, so you might want to check disinfectant product recommendations from the manufacturer.
The number of calories a person burns during exercise depends on a number of factors, including weight, heart rate, age, and sex. You may expect to burn more calories during a Vinyasa-style yoga class vs. a slower-paced Hatha yoga class. Check a wearable fitness tracker for a more precise estimate, and remember that yoga's benefits extend beyond the caloric burn.