Yoga isn’t just beneficial for improving core strength, flexibility, and stress levels; it can also help you sleep better—especially if you suffer from insomnia. When people who have insomnia perform yoga on a daily basis, they sleep for longer, fall asleep faster, and return to sleep more quickly if they wake up in the middle of the night. This is also true for older people who have insomnia—those who are 60 and older experience better sleep quality, sleep for longer, and feel better during the day when they perform regular yoga.
This benefit can be seen in all sorts of situations where people have trouble sleeping. For example, pregnant women who start a mindful yoga practice in their second trimester sleep better and wake up less often throughout the night, and cancer patients sleep better if they do yoga (90 percent of cancer patients experience insomnia symptoms while receiving treatment).
If you want to work yoga into your bedtime routine, it’s important to do the right kind. Some types of yoga can be energizing (like hot yoga and vigorous vinyasa flow), which won’t help you relax as well as restorative styles of yoga like hatha and nidra. Here are three poses that are ideal for preparing your body for sleep.
- Legs Up the Wall: Lie on the ground on your back and put the back of your legs up a wall (keep your legs straight), so your body is in an L-shaped pose. Relax into the position, hold it for at least 30 seconds and focus on your breathing.
- Lying Butterfly: Lie on the ground on your back. Press the bottoms of your feet against each other and let your knees fall out to the sides. You can put a pillow under your knees if this feels too strenuous.
- Corpse Pose: Lie on the ground on your back with legs straight, arms by sides, and palms facing up. Breathe slowly, focusing on your inhales and exhales.