Insomnia or sleeplessness is the condition where you find it hard to fall asleep at night or experience frequent awakenings during the night. This results in your feeling tired the following morning. If you experience incessant or frequent insomnia could also result in several other disorders like hypertension, depression; heart related ailments and other physiological and social problems.
A majority of your sleep disorders can be corrected by bringing in positive changes in your attitude and also to your lifestyle. However, if your insomnia is a chronic one and such positive changes do not have any effect on your insomnia, then you are most likely to go for the use of certain drugs / medicines / sleep aids (under the supervision of a qualified sleep specialist).
Although such drugs / medicines / sleep aids, which are also known as anti – depressants, appear to provide you some relief from your insomnia, they have their own side effects. These aids or anti – depressants do not get back your sleep in the natural way. Instead they coerce your brain to decrease its activities when the pills are popped and induce sleep in you. Also, it is very hard to get yourself out of the medication cycle as they have long-lasting side effects too. And even if you somehow manage to stop your medication, you might find your sleep fading away again.
This is where the so – called alternative therapies come to your rescue and can definitely cure your sleep disorder. And one such alternative therapy is Yoga.
Insomnia is fast becoming a household problem affecting all ages in the present times due to the huge amount of stress being faced by us. School / college going children continuously face the stress of studies and competition; grown ups have to face work or relationship related stress and so on. Constant piling up of the stress is the major reason for the insomnia being faced by us.
Incorporating yoga in to your life can immensely help you in controlling and curing your stress related insomnia. Yoga has proven to be a great stress buster and can offer you different relaxation techniques, which also include breathing exercises and meditation. One such deep relaxation methodology known as Yoga Nidra (where Nidra means Sleep), can be particularly helpful if you have trouble sleeping.
The procedure of Yoga has a number of poses or postures which are known as Asanas. So, while there isn’t one specific pose that will automatically send you in to a deep sleep; still Yoga can be an effective sleep aid as part of your healthy lifestyle. Hence it would be a good idea to establish a regular Yoga practice, even if you can do only a few poses a day. Yoga includes a lot of stretching of your body. This regular stretching your body helps in releasing the stress and the accompanying tension.
Yoga postures also focus on your breath. This also encourages you to tune in to the present moment and allows you to stop worrying about things that have had happened in the past or which might happen in the future.
While practicing Yoga you may chose to include a few breathing exercises or gentle stretches in your regimen to relieve yourself of the tension and help you relax. The Yoga exercise “Three part Breath” is very helpful for clearing the mind of the day’s clutter and is a good choice at bed time.
You can start with some stronger poses that will help you let off the steam of stress that builds up when the mind gets to running and sleep seems miles away. You can then move in to postures that balance the adrenals thereby creating a mellower central nervous system. You can stretch the back body to relieve the itchy, restless leg syndrome that happens when stress hormones build up in the muscles tissues.
Yoga poses which can be done at bedtime and that too while lying in bed include “Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana). It releases the low back and hips, and you feel more relaxed.
The Goddess (Supta Baddha Konasana) pose, which opens your groins and the Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani) pose are a few of some other good option to relax.
The Corpse (Savasana) pose ends every yoga class and the same is a good way to end your day too. In this pose you lie on your bed focusing on each part of your body and softening it before moving on. You begin with your toes, move up the legs and arms, through the torso to the neck, face and head. Then you spend a few minutes just breathing. If you find your mind wandering during this time, do not engage in your thoughts, instead you should bring your attention back to your breath.
This exercise will help create a break from your active mind and allows you to relax for the sleep. This pose is a restorative and relaxing pose which will still your mind and cleanse and release you from the responsibilities of your day.
You can also try the following Yoga program to effectively control your insomnia and find your night long sleep:
- Step your right foot forward and your left leg back into a lunge stance. Your front knee should be over your heel, or behind it, and your back heel is over the ball of your foot. Inhale, and lift your arms up. Exhale a little more strongly, sweep fists into the side of your hips. Let the inhales bring more breath into your chest, and on the exhales, draw in the navel as you lengthen your tailbone down. Practice releasing more tension on every exhale.You should take five to 10 rounds of breath on one side, and then switch legs.
- After this, come to stand with feet hip distance apart. Bend your knees and fold forward, bringing your fists into opposite elbows. This helps to relax the large muscles of your back, shoulders and neck. Release your head completely, and let the jumble of thoughts drain out as you envision the space that’s left behind.You should repeat this for 15 to 20 breaths.
- Come to sit in Janu Sirsasana with your right leg extended and your left leg bent, foot into the right inner thigh or groin. Roll the flesh of your seat back, and ground your legs into the floor. Frame your long right leg with your hands (lifted onto fingertips), and fold forward with a long spine and open heart.You should take five to 10 breaths here, and then proceed to the next variation on the same side.
- Remain low in the pose, and walk your hands away from your straight leg toward center between your legs, or until you can feel a stretch along the groins and inner thighs. You may want to move your bent leg wider, until the foot rests in its own inner thigh. As you fold, keep your head lifted along a straight spine. Fold at your hip creases — not your lower or mid back — for the best possible stretch.You should take five to 10 breaths here, and then come slowly to sit, shake out your legs, and switch sides.
- Come to lie on your back, legs extended on the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your head, and lift the shoulders off the floor. Inhale at center, and exhale, draw your right knee into the chest, and twist so both your elbows are pointing at the knee. Inhales as both legs lengthen, and exhale, twist with the left knee in. Keep your feet on the ground, or for more action, lift them an inch off the ground. Exhales tone the navel toward the spine as your low back lengthens.You should take five to 10 rounds on each side, then relax the head, shoulders and feet to the floor, reach overhead and take a full body stretch to counter pose.After the above posture, cool it down and counter-stretch the front body by getting back into bed and placing a pillow or bolster beneath the heart. Let your arms rest to your sides, palms up to receive the blessing of calm that comes after a strong, breath-conscious practice.You should breathe here for one minute or more, and then come to the last pose.
- Now, this is the one which I told you earlier too. It is now here in detail. Move the pillows or bolster under your hips, and lift your legs up the wall or into the air. This is a full-body detox only when your legs and hips are higher than your heart, and the head is below the heart. Once you’re situated, keep your hands by the sides or clasp your elbows overhead, rest and breathe.Practice the slow breath here: Inhale, pause for a few seconds, exhale, and pause. Allow your breathing to slow, and follow the sound with your mind.
Know that as you cleanse and center from your day, the tools of yoga are always available to you. Practice often and you’ll master the ability to switch off the mind and rest easier.
Just make sure that you take slow but deep breaths through your nose during the entire period.
Yoga can be your effective snooze inducing ally. Yoga has been proven to calm the mind, relax your body and release all anxiety, which are all the crucial components for you to drift off in to a good quality night long sleep without the frequent awakenings.
For effective results you should include Yoga in your bedtime ritual. Experts have pointed out to the efficacy of creating a standard night time routine in order to signal your body that now is the time to prepare for sleep. Yoga does not have any of the ill side – effects which are associated with the use of anti – depressants.