If you are reading this, you are probably struggling with getting a decent night sleep. I know how hard it is to not sleep well. The dread as you slip into bed, worried you will stay awake, worrying about feeling okay when you wake up, lurching through the next day all heavy and foggy. I have been there. You are not alone. 90% of Americans also have hard time sleeping at least once a month. As sleep deprivation has been linked to serious health issues, I highly recommend experimenting with this technique called Yoga Nidra.
Sleep is personally one of my biggest challenges. My desire to sleep well is what motivates me to live a balanced lifestyle. If I am not taking good enough care of myself, I stop sleeping well. Since I am a wreck if I have a wakeful night, this motivates me (most of the time) to eat an earlier dinner, avoid screens before bedtime, exercise, reduce caffeine, eat well and find ways to manage stressful thoughts during stressful times. Insomnia is a common trait of those of us with more Vata in our mind-body type (dosha). Depending on our dosha, genetics, and even the time of year, some people may start to gain weight, get high blood pressure, experience skin breakouts, etc, when they start living out of balance. For me, it is sleep.
Yoga Nidra helps balance the emotional and physical root causes that make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. It quiets our mind, lowers our heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones.
Sleep Better with Yoga Nidra:
Understand the method. Yoga nidra means yogic sleep, and it’s often described as sleeping with awareness. It helps you relax and fall asleep faster. It also makes your slumbers more refreshing.
Get into position. You can stay in bed or lie on your back on a mat. Place a thin pillow or folded blanket under your head.
Breathe deeply. Bring your attention to your breath. When you’re settled down, start exhaling for twice as long each time you inhale.
Scan your body. Become more aware of your body. Let your awareness travel to your fingers and toes, arms and legs, and torso and head. Spend extra time soothing any spots where you are experiencing pain or soreness.
Complete the cycle. Imagine rays of light warming your heart. Form a positive resolution, like to become more courageous or to start eating more green vegetables. Repeat the cycle as needed.
Other Yoga Practices for Better Sleep:
Start with vigorous exercise. If you struggle with insomnia, you may want to save strenuous yoga poses for early in the day. That includes sun salutations and back bends.
Finish with gentler poses. End your session with calming poses or plan a before-bed workout. Good choices would be any kind of forward bends or inversions.
Add in restorative poses. Restorative poses are great for bedtime or anytime you feel drained. One of the best is simply lying close to a wall and putting your legs up against it. Hold for 15 minutes or more. You’ll feel like you just got a long massage.
Explore prana. Yoga offers a variety of breathing techniques for stimulation or sedation. Three part breath is one of the easiest to start with. Visualize air filling your abdomen, rib cage, and chest. Exhale in the reverse order.
Lighten up. Worrying about insomnia makes it more difficult to doze off. Remember that an occasional sleepless night is unlikely to harm your health. Get up and do something boring until you feel like going back to bed. For example, read the manual that came with your washing machine.
Meditate daily. If you enjoy yoga nidra, you may want to consider spending time meditating during the day. Even if you’re uninterested in sitting for long periods, you can dispel stress with just a few minutes of standing meditation while you’re brushing your teeth.
Assess your sleep habits. Yoga works best when you follow the usual recommendations about sleep habits. Go to bed and get up on a consistent schedule. Use caffeine in moderation. Avoid eating anything heavy late at night.
Consult your doctor. Other physical conditions can interfere with sleep. If sleeplessness persists, see the doctor to rule out hormone imbalances, restless leg syndrome, or sleep apnea.
Fast-paced lifestyles and constant stimulation can make it difficult to feel drowsy at night. Let yoga help you slow down, dissolve tension, and enhance the quality of your sleep.