Are you getting enough quality sleep these days? In a 2005 study on New Zealand sleep patterns, it found that 25 per cent of adults suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. This lack of quality sleep can cause numerous health issues like weakened immunity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, irritability, and cognitive and memory problems. That's quite a list of consequences, and according to the World Health Organisation, it is a significant health concern.
Many factors can cause chronic insomnia for people. Some of the things causing insomnia are using electronic devices before bed, job loss, stress, death of a loved one and others. The reasons for insomnia can be as long as the numerous health issues associated with it. With so much at stake, finding an effective treatment for insomnia is important. Sometimes medication can be an appropriate choice, but before any treatment begins, it is prudent to add fundamental lifestyle changes. Yoga and other regular forms of exercise can help to form the basis of a long-term, sustainable lifestyle that enables you to sleep more, and better.
So, what can yoga do when we can't sleep? According to recent research at Harvard Medical, it was found that yoga helped improve several aspects of sleep. These improvements included sleep efficiency, total sleep time, total wake time, sleep onset latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep), and wake time after sleep onset. Yoga helps increase physical strength and flexibility, improve breathing, reduce stress and enhance mental focus all factors that can help you fight insomnia. By adding a short yoga sequence before bed, you can achieve a better nights' sleep.
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Here is a yoga sequence you can do tonight to help you get the rest you need. Practice each of the following poses for 5 minutes, and while you're doing it, focus on breathing slowly and relaxing your body and mind:
1. Seated Forward Fold: To start, sit with both legs out in front of you. Raise your arms and then lower your hands around your knees or shins. In this gentle version of the pose, let your knees bend, and your feet turn out. From there, round your spine as you gently bring your chin to your chest.
2. Legs Up The Wall: Next, find some wall space and lay with your back on the floor and your hips right up against the wall. Straighten your legs and let them rest against the wall. That's it, sit with your legs up the wall and your back on the floor.
3. Reclining Bound Angle: Move back to the floor and lay on your back. Bring your feet together and let your knees go wide. You want to get a gentle groin stretch. If you feel ready to go deeper into this pose, put some pillows or blocks outside your thighs so you can support the legs and relax further.
4. Child's Pose: Next, come to a kneeling position and have your knees spread wide and your feet touching. Sit back towards your heels and gently stretch your arms out in front. Try and focus on lengthening your spine while also trying to relax your body.
5. Savasana: After the previous poses, flip on to your back, bring your arms below your heart and rest them to your sides. Close your eyes and just let everything go and completely relax. Spend a few minutes here, relaxing and integrating the practice.
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6. Mindfulness: As you slowly reawaken, wiggle your fingers and toes, roll on to your side and come to a comfortable seated position. From here, close your eyes and gently
breathe, focusing on the present. Any time your mind wanders to something else, just come back to your breath and observe the present.
Set a goal of trying to a gentle yoga sequence 3-4 times a week for a month and see how it helps you reduce stress, relax your body, and increase your sleep quality. A regular yoga practice provides one with an undeniable sense of peace, calm, and serenity and will help you fight insomnia. Make the time to include this short yoga routine to your night ritual so you can spend more time getting enough sleep and awaken refreshed and ready for a great day.