Yoga For Sleep

yoga pose for sleep

Last week I hosted an Instagram Live Q&A with Tom Coleman, health scientist and sleep consultant. Tom has worked for several years with elite athletes, sportspeople and companies on sleep. I meet so many people coming to yoga for sleep, or to help switch off, relax and rest. Sleep seems to be something even more of us are struggling with during these Covid times.

Tom and I had a great conversation about the importance of sleep, what stops us from sleeping well, and tips for getting a good night’s sleep. He shared some really helpful insight and advice, and recommended yoga as a way of supporting a healthy sleep routine. But what kind of yoga is best, and how can you tailor your practice to support sleep?

Following our chat, I have put together some tips on yoga for sleep.

Slowly does it

While exercise is great, it is recommended to leave a gap of at least 3 hours between working out and going to bed. As we get ready for sleep, it’s helpful to bring down our body temperature and soothe our nervous system. Therefore, slower, gentle practices like yin or restorative yoga are better suited to doing in the evening before bed. Save the active more energetic types of yoga for earlier in the day.

Just breathe

Calming breathing practices and meditation can help us to move from the sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system. In our parasympathetic nervous system, we are in our rest and digest state – this is where we want to be for sleep. Simple practices like belly breathing and taking longer, slower exhalations, can be really helpful.

Turn down the lights

Reducing our exposure to white and blue light is important before bed to help prepare our brain and body for sleep. Try dimming the lights or even using an eye mask or eye pillow during your evening yoga practice, to help ease you off to sleep.

Stay out of bed!

Though it might be tempting to do your night time practice from your comfy bed, the advice is to keep your yoga and meditation practice out of bed. Our brains are clever and if we start doing yoga in bed, even if it’s very gentle, we can start to associate bed with moving or meditating. This can actually make it harder to fall asleep, and we really shouldn’t spend more than 20 minutes awake in bed. It’s also helpful if our yoga space isn’t somewhere where we tend to nod off. Try to find another room or a comfortable space not far from your bed to practice instead. You can still use plenty of blankets and pillows to make it super cosy.

Try soothing scents

There is research to suggest that calming scents like lavender can help to ease us into a more relaxed, restful state and support sleep. Try popping a few drops of lavender oil into your oil diffuser for your night time practice, or even onto the pillow if you’re settling down for a Yoga Nidra.

If you want to try a calming, night time yin yoga practice to support your sleep routine, check out my latest online yoga classes here.

Yoga For Sleep