Yoga for a Better Night's Sleep

Aura Health Team
Written by
Aura Health Team
Aura Health Team
Written by
Aura Health Team
Yoga for a Better Night's SleepYoga for a Better Night's Sleep

Do you often find yourself tossing and turning, struggling to fall asleep at night? If so, you're not alone. Sleep disturbances are a common problem that many people face, but there may be a solution that you haven't considered - yoga. Yoga has been shown to have a positive impact on sleep quality and can help you achieve the restful night's sleep you've been longing for.

Understanding the Connection Between Yoga and Sleep

The ancient practice of yoga has numerous benefits, and its effects on sleep are no exception. Yoga can help calm the mind, relax the body, and alleviate stress and anxiety - all of which contribute to a better night's sleep.

When we think of yoga, we often picture various poses and stretches that promote flexibility and strength. However, the benefits of yoga extend far beyond just physical fitness. Yoga is a holistic practice that combines breathing exercises, meditation, and physical postures to create a sense of balance and harmony within the body and mind.

One of the key reasons why yoga is effective in improving sleep quality is its ability to activate the body's relaxation response. When we engage in yoga, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" system. This activation helps to counterbalance the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's stress response.

The Science Behind Yoga and Sleep

Scientists have been studying the relationship between yoga and sleep to uncover the mechanisms behind its effectiveness. Research has shown that practicing yoga triggers the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity and promotes relaxation. GABA acts as a natural tranquilizer, reducing excessive neuronal excitability and helping to calm the mind.

In addition to GABA, yoga has been found to increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin is responsible for signaling to the body that it is time to sleep and helping to regulate the sleep-wake rhythm. By practicing yoga regularly, individuals can enhance the natural production of melatonin, promoting a more consistent and restful sleep pattern.

How Yoga Affects Your Sleep Cycle

Your sleep cycle consists of various stages, including REM and non-REM sleep. Regular yoga practice has been found to increase the duration of slow-wave sleep, which is the restorative phase of your sleep cycle. During this stage, the body repairs and rejuvenates itself, promoting physical recovery and mental well-being.

By lengthening the duration of slow-wave sleep, yoga can help individuals experience a deeper and more restful sleep. This can lead to waking up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to take on the day.

Furthermore, the practice of yoga can also improve sleep quality by reducing sleep disturbances. Many individuals struggle with insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns due to stress, anxiety, or an overactive mind. Yoga helps to calm the mind and relax the body, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

It is important to note that the benefits of yoga on sleep are not instantaneous. Like any other practice, consistency is key. Regularly incorporating yoga into your routine and making it a habit can yield long-term improvements in sleep quality and overall well-being.

The Benefits of Yoga for Sleep

When it comes to improving your sleep, yoga offers a wide range of benefits. Here are a few ways in which yoga can enhance your sleep quality:

Improved Sleep Quality

Yoga helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and promotes deep, restful sleep. By incorporating yoga into your nightly routine, you may find that you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling more energized.

Additionally, yoga can improve the overall quality of your sleep. When you practice yoga, you engage in various poses and movements that release tension and promote relaxation. This can help alleviate any physical discomfort or restlessness that may interfere with your sleep. Moreover, the combination of deep breathing exercises and mindful meditation during a yoga session can calm your mind and quiet racing thoughts, allowing you to enter a state of tranquility conducive to a good night's rest.

Reduction of Sleep Disorders

Those suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea can find relief through regular yoga practice. Yoga can help reduce the symptoms of these conditions and improve overall sleep quality.

Insomnia, characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, can be particularly disruptive to one's well-being. However, yoga offers a holistic approach to addressing the root causes of insomnia. By incorporating gentle movements, stretching, and relaxation techniques, yoga can help release physical tension and promote a sense of calmness, making it easier to achieve a restful night's sleep.

Similarly, individuals with sleep apnea, a condition characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep, can benefit from yoga. Certain yoga poses, such as the corpse pose or the bridge pose, can strengthen the muscles involved in breathing and improve respiratory function. By practicing these poses regularly, individuals with sleep apnea may experience a reduction in sleep disturbances and breathing irregularities.

Increased Relaxation and Stress Relief

Stress and anxiety are common culprits of sleepless nights. Yoga incorporates deep breathing exercises, meditation, and gentle movements that promote relaxation and relieve stress.

When you engage in deep breathing exercises during a yoga session, you activate the body's relaxation response. This response triggers a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, which are all indicators of stress. By regularly practicing deep breathing exercises, you can train your body to enter a state of relaxation more easily, making it easier to unwind before bed and prepare for a restful night's sleep.

In addition to deep breathing, yoga also incorporates meditation, which can help quiet the mind and alleviate racing thoughts. By focusing on the present moment and practicing mindfulness, you can let go of worries and anxieties that may be keeping you awake at night. This mental clarity and sense of calmness can greatly contribute to a more peaceful and uninterrupted sleep.

Furthermore, the gentle movements and stretches performed during a yoga session can help release physical tension and promote a sense of physical relaxation. By practicing these movements regularly, you can alleviate muscle stiffness and soreness, allowing your body to fully relax and prepare for sleep.

Best Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

Not all yoga poses are created equal when it comes to improving sleep. Here are a few of the best poses to incorporate into your bedtime routine:

Child's Pose (Balasana)

This gentle resting pose is known for its calming effect on the mind and body. By releasing tension in the back, shoulders, and hips, Child's Pose prepares you for a peaceful night's sleep.

Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Sometimes referred to as "the fountain of youth," Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose is known for its rejuvenating effects. This inverted pose improves circulation, relieves muscle tension, and promotes relaxation - all of which contribute to better sleep.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

The ultimate relaxation pose, Corpse Pose, is usually practiced at the end of a yoga session. Lying flat on your back with your arms at your sides, this pose allows your body to fully relax and prepares you for a deep, restful sleep.

Incorporating Yoga into Your Nightly Routine

Now that you know the benefits of yoga for better sleep, it's time to integrate it into your nightly routine. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Creating a Yoga-Friendly Space at Home

Designate a quiet, clutter-free area in your home where you can comfortably practice yoga. Adding candles, soothing music, and comfortable props can enhance the relaxation experience.

Timing Your Yoga Practice for Optimal Sleep

Aim to practice yoga at least 1-2 hours before bedtime. This allows your body enough time to cool down and relax before sleep. Avoid vigorous, energizing yoga practices close to bedtime, as they may have the opposite effect.

Combining Yoga with Other Sleep-Enhancing Habits

While yoga on its own can improve sleep, combining it with other healthy habits can maximize its benefits. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a calming bedtime routine, and eliminating electronic devices before bed can all contribute to better sleep.

As you can see, yoga offers a holistic approach to improving sleep quality. By incorporating this ancient practice into your nightly routine, you can unlock the power of relaxation and experience the rejuvenating effects of a good night's sleep.

Unlock the power of relaxation with the Aura Health App. The Aura app provides guided meditations, relaxation techniques, and sleep-focused content to help you achieve a better night's sleep. Download the app today and start your journey towards improved sleep and overall well-being.

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July 1, 2023
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