How Yoga Can Improve Your Sleep Quality
Do you struggle to get a good night's sleep? Whether it's difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, yoga could help you improve your sleep naturally.
The Sleep Benefits of Yoga
Practicing yoga improves sleep in several ways, including:
- Reducing Stress. Stress, particularly stress at work, increases the risk of insomnia. British researchers discovered that working swing shifts or dealing with health problems didn't increase sleep issues, while workplace stress did. Their research, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, suggested that reducing stress could prevent more than 50% of insomnia cases. Yoga relieves stress by lowering your production of cortisol, a key stress hormone. At the same time, your body increases its production of serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. These hormones enhance relaxation and improve your mood.
- Stopping the "What Ifs". Meditation, an integral part of yoga, helps stop negative thoughts from swirling around your brain when you're trying to sleep. Although it takes a little practice to clear your mind completely, you'll gradually master this important skill during yoga classes. If you find yourself obsessing about a work project or family issue at night, a quick meditation session will calm your mind and help you sleep.
- Relieving Pain. Pain often becomes a secondary concern during a busy day. Unfortunately, your symptoms may become much more noticeable when you're trying to sleep. Practicing yoga reduces the symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis and fibromyalgia. It also eases back, neck, and knee pain. Women with knee arthritis who practiced yoga noticed improvements in pain, mobility, and physical function, according to a research study published in PLOS ONE. Compared to standard treatment, yoga offers better relief of chronic low back pain and stress, according to a study that appeared in Frontiers in Pain Research.
- Loosening Tight Muscles. Muscles become tight and painful for many reasons, like stress and poor posture. Sleep requires complete relaxation, which is difficult if your muscles are tight and sore. A yoga session before bed stretches and relaxes muscles, easing tension, and pain.
- Boosting Natural Melatonin Production. As bedtime nears, melatonin production increases. The hormone controls your sleep-wake cycle and helps you fall asleep at night. At least, that's what should happen. If you're stressed, a high cortisol level could interfere with melatonin production. Practicing yoga decreases your cortisol level, ensuring that melatonin can do its job to help you sleep.
- Calming Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Sleep becomes impossible when you can't quiet the itchy, crawling feelings in your legs. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, participants who practiced yoga for 12 weeks saw greater improvements in symptoms, symptom severity, stress, mood and sleep quality compared to those who watched a film about RLS.
- Combating Age-Related Changes. Aging changes many things, including your ability to sleep well. As you get older, you may spend less time in the restful, slow-wave stage of sleep. Yoga helps middle-aged people increases slow-wave sleep time, according to a study published in Sleep and Biological Rhythms.
Wondering if yoga could help you sleep better? Contact us to enroll in a yoga class.
British Psychological Society: British Journal of Health Psychology: Does Work Stress Predict Insomnia? A Prospective Study, 12/16/2010
PLOS ONE: Efficacy of a Biomechanically-Based Yoga Exercise Program in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial, 4/17/2018
Frontiers in Pain Research: Objective Evidence for Chronic Back Pain Relief by Medical Yoga Therapy, 12/23/2022
Wiley: Sleep and Biological Rhythms: Evaluation of Sleep Architecture in Practitioners of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and Vipassana Meditation, 9/16, 2006
Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Effects of a 12-Week Yoga Versus a 12-Week Educational Film Intervention on Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome and Related Outcomes: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Trial, 1/15/2020
MedlinePlus: Insomnia, 12/4/2018