Yoga For Better Sleep: Truth Or Fiction?


You’ve had a long day. You’re exhausted and yearning for bed, but once you finally get into bed, sleep becomes elusive. Meanwhile, your significant other snores into oblivion the very minute his head hits the pillow!
If this is you, you’re not alone. Insomnia is more common than you think.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. According to Sleep Foundation, as many as 30% of adults suffer from insomnia, mostly middle-aged women. It can either be short-term over a brief period or chronic where it lasts for three months or more.
Either you have a problem falling asleep (sleep onset) or struggle with staying asleep (sleep maintenance). The effects of insomnia can vary significantly, depending on various factors. There are numerous causes of insomnia such as stress, illness, and mental health disorders. In many cases, there are multiple factors involved.
The good news is that insomnia can be managed naturally.
My experience with insomnia
I have suffered from both sleep-onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia. If a human mind was a car, mine would be on Formular One track racing and scooping trophies faster than Lewis Hamilton. From a creativity standpoint, this is gold, but from a sleep perspective, not so much. To fall asleep, I need to coax my mind and cuddle it like a small baby in order to relax! The good news is my sleep has improved significantly in recent years since I started practicing yoga daily.
A new study by researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated how a daily yoga practice can affect sleep for people with insomnia and found broad improvements to measurements of sleep quality and quantity.
Here is why yoga is great for better sleep:
1. Yoga unwinds the nervous system: When we drift off to sleep, our hormone levels change in the brain, meaning that the central nervous system goes into a different mode, essentially one that allows us to become unconscious. Yoga can aid this process by increasing blood flow to the brain’s central sleep centre and stimulating glands that are responsible for releasing the hormones that are essential to sleep.
2. Yoga relieves stress and anxiety: According to one study, 70% of people suffering from anxiety and stress also have trouble sleeping. So combating that stress is essential to being able to have a good night’s rest. Yoga reduces the body’s natural stress responses and lowers the heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, setting you up for a deep slumber.
If you just want to dabble your feet in the water, YouTube is a great place to start. It is free. You can visit a yoga studio near you.
Yoga is an ancient practice that you can incorporate into your lifestyle. It has many health benefits, including weight loss.
*BONOLO PHALADZE is a certified yoga teacher and teacher lead at Yownn Yoga, a yoga studio in Gaborone. She is also a professional banker and a blogger who is passionate about wellness.