Nearly 10 percent of Americans report suffering from chronic insomnia and more than a quarter of people say occasionally they don’t get enough sleep, that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you can relate, and counting sheep isn’t doing the trick, you might want to try yoga.
Judi Bar is a certified yoga instructor at Cleveland Clinic and says generally, people who practice yoga sleep better at night.
“When we practice yoga we learn to calm the nervous system and stop secreting all those stress hormones, all of those things that are so detrimental and can cause chronic disease in a way, that can calm us better for a better night’s rest,” Bar says.
Bar says certain yoga poses may help you sleep better than others. She recommends slow, easy stretching poses, like a forward fold. You can even use blankets and pillows to help support your body.
A forward fold stimulates a relaxation response from the nervous system and helps to calm you. Lying on the floor on your back with your legs extended up the wall is another relaxing pose to try before bedtime. You can also try using a chair or the side of your bed for a less aggressive pose.
Bar says this pose also helps relax the nervous system. She recommends taking three to five deep breaths as you lie in each pose.
“Breath-work is probably paramount to helping us sleep better. The key is relaxing our chest, relaxing our belly and just taking nice, even breaths,” Bar says.
To really stimulate the nervous system to relax, Bar recommends trying longer exhales as you’re breathing deeply.