A new Guest Blog by Ellie Porter:
You may think that a bedtime routine is only helpful for kids, but it’s beneficial for people of all ages. Creating a routine helps train your brain into knowing that when you do those particular things in that order, it should start sending signals to the rest of your body that it’s time for bed.
One thing you should think about adding to your bedtime routine is yoga. When practiced twice a week, yoga has been found to improve sleep quality in nurses and reduce the effects of work stress on your psyche. It’s also a light exercise that will help to wear down your muscles at the end of the day while also allowing you to stretch almost every muscle in your body. Practicing daily has been found to reduce insomnia symptoms
Yoga has also been found to have significant effects on both mental health and sleep quality in long-term practitioners. It’s definitely something you should try adding to your bedtime routine to help yourself in the long term.
There are a plethora of ways that you can do yoga, most of which do not require anything expensive. Whether you want to try going to a studio to learn or rely on Youtube or apps on your phone to help guide your practice, yoga is a great way to bring your body and mind together before you try to sleep.
Those nurses in the study practiced yoga for 50 to 60 minutes twice a week, but you don’t have to. It doesn’t take long. Fitness Magazine even created an 8-minute workout specifically for before bed. Make sure that you aren’t doing too strenuous a routine. You want to trigger the relaxation response in your brain, but you don’t want to cause your adrenaline to start pumping.
Turn on the air in your room, light a candle with a soothing smell, and start with some deep breaths in child’s pose. If you want to do yoga without a guide, you might want to put on a podcast or audiobook, or just some soothing instrumentals, to help you focus.
You can even do yoga from your bed if you have the right kind of mattress. You can do anything from wide child’s pose to a seated spinal twist to happy baby pose, all without leaving your bed. Some mattresses will make it harder than others because they have soft foam support cores or bouncy inner springs. If you want to do yoga in bed, it’ll be easiest with a hybrid mattress that isn’t too bouncy or too soft. You can even do it with your partner if they’re willing to join you.
While you’re doing yoga, you might also want to try meditating, which has been found to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. A few minutes of meditation can help avoid racing thoughts once you lay down to sleep, and can also help with helping you to stay asleep longer. Like yoga, it’s a straightforward process that anyone can learn. Harvard Medical School created a guide to basic mindfulness meditation for any who wish to learn it.