If you’ve been having trouble getting to sleep lately, it might be time to give bedtime yoga a try.
Yoga has the ability to impact sleep in all the right ways. Studies suggest that some people experience improved sleep quality after practicing yoga at bedtime. Given that yoga exercises involve the process of stretching and then relaxing muscles, a notable amount of physical and mental exertion is required. So, choosing to work yoga into your bedtime routine could result in the ability to fall asleep faster, experience more deep sleep, suffer less sleep disruption, and lead to an all-round improved sleep efficiency (1).
But does bedtime yoga work? And how can you get started? We’ll explain all you need to know below.
Where to practice bedtime yoga
As yoga poses call for a firm, flat exercising surface, the floor (cushioned by a yoga mat) is ideal. We would not advise trialling yoga at bedtime on your bed. Instead, find yourself some floor space at home.
Whether this is in your bedroom, living room, or any other room in your home, as part of your bedtime routine, it’s important to dim the lights. Choose candlelight or lamplight. Dimming the lights, or reducing your exposure to bright lights 2-hours before bedtime has been proven to help you fall asleep faster (2). This is because your circadian clock responds to light as a signal to be awake and alert. In contrast, your circadian clock responds to darkness by sending signals that it’s time for sleep (3).
Top yoga stretches to add to your bedtime routine
So, which yoga stretches are the most important ones to practice at bedtime? We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to! Read on to unveil the top yoga poses and stretches to work into your pre-sleep regime.
Child pose (Bālāsana)
The Bālāsana or Child pose, is a kneeling asana in yoga. To perform this bedtime yoga pose follow these steps:
- Start by kneeling on the floor. Your big toes on either foot maintain contact with each other while the knees widen to align with your hips.
- Yoga focuses on beathing. And so, on the exhale you’ll need to lower your torso down between your thighs.
- Stretch your arms out above your head and allow your shoulders to rest against the floor.
- Hold this yoga pose for a couple of minutes.
- And then to exit, simply raise your torso back into the upright position.
With your arms outstretched in front of you, you’ll engage and stretch the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms (4).
Supine spinal twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
The supine twist is a simple, yet effective way to stretch your muscles, relieve tension and encourage relaxation. To practice this yoga pose before bed, follow these steps:
- Begin by lying on your back.
- Stretch your arms out to the sides and place your hands in a palms-down position. (Imagine yourself as a capital T from an aerial view)
- Next, bend your right knee and position your right foot on your left knee.
- On the exhale, you need to lower your right knee to the left side of your body. This will gently twist your spine and lower back.
- Position your head so that you are looking at your right hand.
- Your shoulders should remain flat against the floor. Close your eyes and relax. Allow gravity to pull your knee down towards the floor.
- Breathe and hold this pose for a couple of minutes.
- To exit this pose, inhale as you roll your hips back to a central position. Then, as you exhale lower your legs back into their usual position.
Then you’ll need to repeat this exercise in reverse. So:
- Lie on your back.
- Stretch your arms out to the sides and place your hands in a palms-down position.
- Bend your left knee and position your left foot on your right knee.
- Exhale and lower your left knee to the right side of your body.
- Position your head so that you are looking at your left hand.
- Keep your shoulders flat against the floor. Close your eyes, relax, and allow gravity to pull your knee down towards the floor.
- Breathe and hold this pose for a couple of minutes and then use the technique outlined in step 8 above to exit the pose (5).
Not only can the supine twist help to relieve tension before bed, but it can also help to improve digestion too. This type of movement helps to expel waste. It encourages food and waste to progress through your digestive system and can signal to your body that it needs to remove that waste. As you release from the supine twist, fresh blood — blood that’s loaded with oxygen and nutrients — rushes back into your digestive organs (6). It is this freshly stimulated blood flow that nourishes and supports your gut. And gut health and sleep quality are closely linked as Dr Sophie Bostock explains in her “Could Good Quality Sleep Improve Gut Health and Vice-Versa” post.
Legs-up-the-wall (viparita karani)
The legs-up-the-wall yoga pose – which is more formerly known as the viparitya karani – helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Plus, it’s an easy one for beginners looking to work yoga into their bedtime routine.
To master the pose, follow the steps outlined below:
- Start by sitting on the floor facing a wall.
- Then lower your shoulders and head to the floor and lie on your side.
- Next, roll onto your back and stretch your legs upwards. They will rest against the wall and your feet should be spaced similarly to the width of your hips.
- Position your tailbone closer to the wall (it doesn’t need to actually touch the wall though).
- Place your arms by your sides and position your palms facing upwards. Make sure that your arms and shoulders are relaxed.
- Then, relax your legs against the wall. Settle into the pose and breathe for 10-15 minutes (or as long as feels comfortable).
- Finally, to exit the pose, on the inhale, bend your knees and roll onto your side. Take a few breaths in this position before slowly pushing yourself back up into the seated position (7).
Corpse pose (savasana)
The savasana (or corpse pose) is a great yoga pose to work into your bedtime routine. Believed to calm the mind, reduce stress, and also help the digestive and immune systems, this is a great one to try out.
To get into this bedtime yoga position, follow the steps outlined below:
- Start by lying on your back with your legs straight and your arms relaxed by your sides.
- Allow your feet to fall into a natural position and position your hands in a palms-up position.
- Then close your eyes and breathe naturally.
- Release your body, allowing it to feel heavy.
- Then work through the different parts of your body, consciously releasing them as you work upwards from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
- Relax. The key role of this yoga pose is to encourage relaxation to take hold and release all the tension from the day at the same time.
- Hold the corpse pose for 5-15 minutes.
- Finally, to exit the pose, begin by wriggling your fingers and toes. With your eyes still closed, raise your knees into your body and slowly roll over onto your side. Rest there for a breath or two and, when you’re ready, inhale and return your body into a comfortable upright seated position.
The peace and the stillness experienced during this yoga pose should come with you as you climb under the duvet and prepare yourself for sleep (8).
How to do yoga before bed
When it comes to using yoga to help you sleep better, experts recommend practicing your routine a minimum of 30 minutes before climbing into bed (9).
The key thing to remember is that you’ll need to wait for approximately 2 hours after eating your evening meal to get started.
If you want to work yoga into your sleep hygiene routine, be sure to try to practice it at the same time every evening. And dim the lights before starting out to encourage your body and mind to begin relaxing in preparation for sleep.
Yoga for sleep: the benefits
Here are just three examples of the many benefits adding bedtime yoga to your routine can have.
1. Bedtime yoga can help to alleviate insomnia
Practicing yoga on a regular basis can help you to manage symptoms of insomnia (10). Yoga could help you to fall asleep quicker, sleep deeper, and find it easier to fall back asleep after disruptions through the night.
2. Yoga may help with weight loss
Regularly practicing yoga has been linked to weight loss (11). This is in part due to the close links between better sleep quality and weight loss.
And so, just as doing yoga before bed could help you to achieve a better-quality sleep, those benefits could extend to weight loss.
3. Yoga helps to promote relaxation
Yoga could help you achieve a state of relaxation. Yoga poses are calming. They help your body to relieve tension which encourages your mind to do the same. And effectively reducing stress and anxiety levels will improve your quality of life all-round (12).
Achieve the sleep you need with Bensons
Our diverse collection of beds, mattresses, pillows, and duvets offer something for every sleep preference and need. Helping you to choose your bed, your way®, here at Bensons for Beds we combine expert knowledge with the latest sleeppro technology to make getting that all important great night’s sleep easier than ever before.
For more information on how to get a good night’s sleep, visit your nearest showroom or call us on 0808 144 6160.