Yoga Helps You Sleep Better

According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia. Unfortunately, about 60 million prescriptions are written each year for relief.

Researchers have discovered that behavioral changes including relaxation techniques designed to increase body-mind awareness can help restless sleepers. “When people who have insomnia perform yoga on a daily basis, they sleep for longer, fall asleep faster, and return to sleep more quickly if they wake up in the middle of the night.” (National Sleep Foundation)

Harvard Medical School suggests yogic breathing, and a few yogic postures before bed for better sleep. It’s pretty easy to create a before bedtime yoga ritual…

Just before you are ready to crawl into bed take out your yoga mat and do the following with deep breaths:

1) Cow/Cat

Inhale Cow - Exhale Cat

2) Wag the Tail

Inhale, Exhale push out Right Hip & look over Right Shoulder - Inhale Center, Exhale Left Hip, Left Shoulder

3) Barrel Roll

Inhale into a Cat Stretch, Exhale and roll the torso. Continue rolling with deep breaths and massage your back, hips, and shoulders. Do this 3x then change and roll the other direction.

4) Legs up the Wall (or Chair)

This simple before bedtime practice helps you let go of the day and prepare yourself for a peaceful night’s sleep. You may also find it helpful, upon crawling into bed to tell yourself, “I am now experiencing complete relaxation and deep sleep.” Then take a few moments with a body scan, starting at your toes, feet, ankles, knees, thighs, hips, buttocks, low back, belly, mid back, chest, upper back, upper chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, face, and head.

One of yoga’s most powerful teachings is that within the mind exists not only the chattering ego, but the calm witness that observes without judgment. Knowing and practicing this can help if you ever find yourself wide awake at 3 AM, tossing and turning, and listening to the chattering ego mind. In this moment, stop – take a breath – step back away from the panic about being awake – and become the witness in the moment. By creating the space apart from your ego mind, you may loosen insomnia’s hold.

“Our consciousness is coming and going all day and night. When you accept this process, you’re better able to let periods of nighttime wakefulness arise and fall away without resistance.” (Dr. Richard Miller)

Sweet Dreams….Om Shanti,



Kirsten Erickson, C-IAYT, YACEP, E-RYT200, RYT500, iRest® Yoga Nidra Level 1 Teacher, Yoga Wellness North