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How Yoga May Improve Your Sleep

 

We all know the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep – it can boost immunity, help our organs function, and keeps our brains working over-time all day. Despite this, our busy society and culture has forced many Americans to choose between productivity and rest. Many people get less than six hours of sleep per night, far less than the recommended eight. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, depression, and susceptibility to illness. Luckily, doctors and scientists have been hard at work to develop safe and natural treatments to help people sleep longer or boost their rest when they cannot.

One great way to help fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer is yoga. Yoga is defined as a series of stretches designed to increase blood flow and mobility while relieving stress and muscle pain. Many people who practice yoga report better concentration during the day, reduced stress, and best of all: better sleep habits. If you’re a yoga newbie, don’t feel like you need to join in the hot classes just yet. There are yoga stretches called poses that you can do before bed that can help you just as much.

A 15-minute routine around bedtime may be all you need to get the sleep you need. Simply dim the lights, and get two props – a large book and a couple of thick pillows. The first move is designed to relax your heart rate through deep breathing. Lie on your back with the book on your belly. Be mindful of your breath and concentrate on the book’s weight to help you breath from the diaphragm. Do this for about two or three minutes to decrease stress hormones.

The second part of this yoga routine is called reclined butterfly. Lay the pillows behind your head and upper back, with your head a little higher than the chest. Bring your feet together and make sure thighs are parallel. Remain in the pose for five to ten minutes and breath naturally. This portion of the routine will help the nervous system relax completely and ready to rest.

The final move in this yoga trio seems a bit silly but will increase blood flow and relaxation to the highest levels. Lie on your back near a wall and put your legs up against it. Scoot as close as you can while remaining comfortable and notice your natural breath for around five or 10 minutes. After this, bend the knees slowly and roll onto your side. Then crawl into bed and it is off to dream world.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Amy

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