Helpful and practical yoga advice for insomniacs
What is insomnia?
In the textbook definition, insomnia is defined as sleeping difficulties—difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep or sleep of poor quality.
Causes or contributing factors for insomnia:
There are a number of contributing causes of insomnia from hormonal shifts to stress, fear and anxiety to the birth of a child, drug use or overuse of technology prior to going to bed.
As a long suffering insomniac myself I understand how frustrating it can be to lay counting the tiles on the ceiling hours after I know I should be asleep, I don’t actually have a tiled ceiling but you get the gist. My insomnia is often worse when I know I have to get up earlier than usual and at those times I might as well give up on sleep altogether.
I have however, found yoga to be a fantastic help and whilst it hasn’t eliminated my insomnia completely, it has certainly lessened the number of sleepless nights.
Benefits of yoga for sleep deprivation:
Whilst yoga can sometimes be touted as a cure-all for a number of health issues, its positive effects on overall wellness can’t be ignored, in particular when considering yoga as a route to relaxation. If you have already been in contact with a health care professional regarding treatment for your insomnia, please do continue with that course of treatment but consider supplementing it with a regular bedtime yoga routine to help with your recovery. Sleeping tablets are often used to treat insomnia, but whilst good for treating the immediate symptoms they don’t address the overarching cause of your sleep deprivation and long term use is ill advised. Continued yoga practice can have possible long term life style influences which may positively impact on the route cause of your insomnia. In all instances though it is advised to seek professional medical help if you have suffered with untreated insomnia for an extended period of time to rule out any medical causes.
There are a number of yoga poses that you can practice in the comfort of your bed.
First set the scene: turn off the television, make sure the lights are low and if you like play some gentle relaxing music. You could also burn incense or diffuse essential oils. It’s an idea to put your pyjamas on before you start so you don’t have to worry about getting changed once you’re relaxed.
Now you can start 🙂 Spend between 5-10 breaths in each pose so that you can really feel the benefits. Also remember to modify each pose so that it feels comfortable for you and lessen or increase the stretch as needed.
Forward Bend (hastapadasana)
Cat Stratch (Marjariasana)
Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Leg’s Up the Wall Pose
One of the most important and effective practices of yoga for insomnia is yoga nidra (or yogic sleep) as it brings deeper relaxation on both mental and emotional levels. It’s said that half an hour practice of yoga nidra is equivalent to four hours of deep sleep. The great aspect of yoga nidra is that there are no associated contraindications and therefore it can be practiced by anyone.
Lay in a comfortable position on your back with your eyes closed whilst your taken through a guided meditation.
There are some lovely guided yoga Nidras on Spotify and this is one of my favourites:
And lastly, repeat the mantra “Namast’ay in bed” – sorry couldn’t resist!