If you want to live a healthy and active life, it’s just as important to sleep well as it is to work out, eat well, and have a good routine. In fact, if you don’t sleep enough there’s no point in working out or doing yoga, even.
Think about it. We do yoga and eat healthy so we can be healthy, have better activity levels, and feel better about ourselves – sleeping less than our body needs goes directly against all of these goals. If you want to know more about how sleep contributes to your yoga performance, keep reading!
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What is Yoga?
Yoga is aimed at bringing balance and harmony between our spiritual and physical selves, and it does so with the help of a series of mindful and meditative exercises.
With time, different types of yoga have developed for different benefits, like asana yoga, hatha yoga, bikram yoga, and many others. The benefits range from improved general physical wellbeing to helping ease some symptoms of certain medical conditions.
How to Get Better Sleep
If you aren’t sleeping well, it could be for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re unable to rest because of a messed up internal clock, maybe you’re trying to fall asleep at less than ideal temperatures or you’re using a mattress that does your body and your back more harm than good.
Try cooling mattresses if you feel too hot at night, and try mattresses designed for side sleepers if you sleep on your side but are waking up with neck, shoulders, and backaches.
You can even re-do your bedtime routine to include calming rituals like a warm bath or chamomile tea.
Here are some steps you can add to your bedtime routine to sleep better:
- Take a warm bath before bed. This will help regulate your body temperature to get you ready for bed and also help relax your muscles so you can fall asleep easily.
- Make sure you have a lot of daylight in any rooms you spend time in – this will help you feel sleepier when it’s time for bed by telling your brain when it’s day outside and when it’s night on a deep, subconscious level.
- Avoid any alcoholic beverages and caffeine a few hours before bed – both these things are known to mess with the way we fall asleep or even feel sleepy, which may result in bad quality sleep, and no one wants that.
- Don’t eat any heavy dinners right before bed – these can cause you heartburn or for you to need the bathroom in the middle of the night, disturbing your sleep.
Sleep and Yoga
Improves Concentration Levels
Sleeping well improves your concentration levels, reaction time, and your overall mood. This in turn helps you during meditative exercises that require that same focus and great reflexes.
If you’re low on sleep, you’ll even have trouble holding your balance and maintaining proper form – this is a frequent risk with people who lift weights as the chances of injury are great in that sport, but it shouldn’t be taken any less seriously in yoga.
Improves Balance and Coordination
Another important factor to notice is that while yoga does improve your health and wellbeing, it’s not going to fix problems that are caused by a lack of sleep. No matter how much yoga and other methods to calm and center yourself you try, you would ultimately benefit more from a nap in the same amount of time that you engage in yoga.
Get More Out of Mindfulness Practices
Yoga isn’t just about your physical well-being, and a lot of yoga practices incorporate things like meditation and deep thinking into them. Not getting enough sleep will have you feeling restless and unable to focus much, which in turn wouldn’t let you get the most out of your morning yoga – some might even say the yoga won’t work if you’re not getting your brain and your soul involved into it!
People facing issues like insomnia or chronic sleep debt need to work more on sleeping better. Once they maintain a certain amount of sleep per day or have some degree of normality in their sleep schedules, they can start using yoga and expect it to work.
The interesting thing is that while yoga works better when you’ve had enough sleep, yoga itself might help you sleep better too. We suggest that you start with your yoga and see if your sleep schedule improves – the only reason for it not to is if you have a medical condition that needs expert attention, or if you have any stress-related issues that are keeping you up at night.