It seems that nearly everyone experiences sleep issues at one time or another. Insufficient sleep is more than a personal problem; it’s a public health issue. Sleepy drivers and workers can cause accidents.
People often complain that their “minds just won’t shut off” when they can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. This is usually a signal of anxiety, so it helps to look at what’s bothering you. If it happens frequently, it might be a sign that you need to talk to someone to help sort things out—finding a therapist can help.
Certainly, fear and anxiety aren’t conducive to sleep. I’m speaking from experience. Although I’ve never tried sleeping pills, many years ago I had scary nightmares and slept poorly. With the help of psychoanalysis and yoga, I am now the sleep queen. I fall asleep in minutes and sleep soundly. If I do wake up, it is for a short time, and then I go back to sleep. If I’m worried about something, I use relaxation techniques to help my body and mind quiet down.addictive and they affect the quality of your sleep. Some people sleepwalk when they use sleeping pills. For these reasons and others, I prefer the holistic approach to better sleep.
Here are some simple, all-natural ways to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Shut off your computer at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Consider giving up the late-night news if you’re constantly waking up feeling exhausted.
- A cup of herbal tea or warm milk with honey and a dash of nutmeg can be calming.
- Talking with a therapist can help alleviate the anxiety that is keeping you awake.
A Quick Yoga Sequence for Better Sleep
Do this in your pajamas when you’re ready for bed. Move slowly at your own pace and take deep breaths. Have a chair handy, or you can use the edge of your bed if it’s a comfortable height for you to sit on—meaning you can sit on the edge with your feet on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Start in tabletop position on the floor. Begin some gentle cat/cows. Yoga Journal has simple pictures explaining cat and cow pose.
- Change cat/cow to a milder version. In cat, look slightly upward, then on the exhale push back gently to wide-knee child’s pose, arms extended forward, forearms on floor if that is comfortable for you. Continue slowly inhaling up into cat, exhaling back into child’s pose. Do as many as you like.
- Rest in child’s pose for a moment or two.
- Now, sit on the floor close to a chair or the edge of your bed with your legs under the chair or bed or cross-legged in front of the chair, as you like. Then, fold your arms onto the seat of the chair or the edge of the bed and rest your forehead on your folded arms. Stay as long as you like.
- Next is my favorite. With your back on floor, put your legs up the wall or bend your knees so your calves rest on the seat of the chair. This position can help with low back pain.
- Now, sit on the chair or the bed, bring your left arm behind you, place the palm of your left hand on the chair seat or bed, and get nice and long. Then, stretch your right arm up, get longer, and place right hand on left knee. Twist to the left, beginning from the belly, to the mid-back, to the shoulders, and last of all the head. Hold for three breaths, then return to center and repeat on the other side.
- Come back to child’s pose, on the floor or the bed. You may support your trunk with a pillow or not. Choose whatever is the most comfortable for you.
- End with abhyanga, a yoga massage. Simply massage hands, fingers, arms, toes, feet, and legs with moisturizer and go to sleep.
- If you like to read for a bit before you finally fall asleep, that’s OK, too.
Always check with your physician before you begin any new form of exercise, including yoga.
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