Sleep is now proven to be more important to our health than setting that alarm to get up early for our early morning exercise routine.
So, we thought it’s important to unite what Yoga, Ayurveda and the latest in Sleep Research have to say on the topic.
Here, we shall look at some gentle restorative night time postures. We enocurage you to have yoga props or gather pillows and doonas that you could use as props:
* eye pillow
We look forward to practising Yoga for a Good-Night’s Sleep.
Remedies for a good night’s sleep...
* Don’t do anything in bed other than sleep or sex – no tv, phone, computer, discussion about finances, balancing accounts or arguing – the bed is only for sleep.
* All planning for the next day done before retiring – have a notebook should you wake and need to write it down.
* If you can’t sleep, get up and go to another room as in doing so your body temperature drops. It also changes the “neurodynamics” of lying there thinking about the fact that you are still awake and any negative association you may have with not being able to sleep in that room, that bed.
* Don’t try too hard to sleep – it will be harder to induce sleep if you stress about it. Have a look into the Tibetan Dream Yoga technique, whereby waking during the night with conscious sleep interruption is valued and staying lucid and mindful of the dream state is a revered practice.
* Avoid drinking large quantities of fluids at night & avoid alcohol 5 hrs before sleep.
* Avoid day times naps – Vata constitutions are ok to have naps where there is fatigue during the Vata time of day 2pm-6pm, pitta and Kapha are advised against day time napping. Napping is only considered plausible in Ayurveda due to summer heat, with ageing, when studying hard, after having sex, carrying heavy weights, travelling, ill of health, grieving or intense emotional upheaval.
* Try eating snacks rich in tryptophan before bed (almonds and milk). Warm milk with nutmeg is used in Ayurveda.
* Avoid high protein meals at night as protein can blocks the synthesis of serotonin and promotes alertness.
* Exercise at least 3-6 hrs before bedtime and not too close to sleep time for best results. Overall, daily exercise is important and promotes slow-wave sleep. Adults age 55 -75 who exercise for 20 to 30 minutes in the afternoon reduce the time it takes to get to sleep by half. Restorative Yoga at night time is an ideal practice and the best posture you can do is legs up the wall pose, Viparita Karani.
* Earplugs for noise and reduce all light.
* Screen time should be minimised before bedtime, try and remove all screens at least two hours prior to sleep and do not keep the phone next to you in bed, even if switched off. The phone should be off and put far away from you in another room so the brain doesn’t keep trying to engage with it whilst sleeping.
* Body temperature to be kept low and cool – windows open and not too much heavy bedding. The room temperature should be an ideal 17-19 degrees for the best sleep.
* Take a hot bath or shower with abhyanga or daily self-massage to follow and use essential oils depending on your constitution, Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Focus on massaging the neck, feet and around the eyes to stimulate the vagus nerve into the parasympathetic nervous system response, bringing the heart rate down.
* Avoid taking magnesium, calcium, b vitamins at night which may inhibit sleep. Best to get these vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet and whole foods.
* 20 minutes light exposure during the late morning (ideally without sunglasses on) for the correct levels of melatonin production at night time.
* You may try cherry juice for melatonin production
* The latest research promotes Kiwi Fruit as being a potentially successful remedy for disturbed sleep.
Sourced from The Sleep Doctor website:
“Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University studied the effects of kiwi consumption on sleep. They found that eating kiwi on a daily basis was linked to substantial improvements to both sleep quality and sleep quantity. Their study included 22 women and 2 men between the ages 20-55. All were experiencing some form of disrupted sleep. For a period of 4 weeks, the volunteers ate 2 kiwifruit 1 hour before bed. Researchers collected data on volunteers’ sleep throughout the study period using sleep diaries, a standard sleep-quality questionnaire, and wristwatches that measured aspects of sleep quality and quantity. After 4 weeks of kiwi consumption, researchers found significant improvements to several measures of sleep:
- People fell asleep more quickly. Sleep onset latency—the amount of time it takes to fall asleep after going to bed—decreased by 35.4%.
- People slept more soundly. Waking time after sleep onset—the amount of time spent in periods of wakefulness after initially falling asleep—fell 28.9%.
- Sleep quality improved. Scores on a standardized sleep quality questionnaire—where lower scores mean better sleep—decreased by 42.4%.
- Sleep efficiency—a measurement of the amount of time spent actually sleeping compared to the total amount of time spent in bed—increased by 5.41%.
- People slept more overall. Total sleep time among the volunteers increased by 13.4%.
These are some pretty dramatic improvements to quality, quantity and efficiency of sleep. We need to see additional research explore the sleep-promoting effects of kiwifruit, but this is a pretty intriguing start.”
Research paper here