A colleague commented to me this week that a friend of hers, who is a busy working professional, has been having lots of trouble with sleep. The only thing that allows him to sleep like a baby is yoga!
Surprised? Not really.
Over the past couple weeks, insomnia has become the norm so I'm trying to get as much shut eye as possible before the baby arrives. And as much as I like warm milk at 3 am, my preference is to be milking in Zzzzs at that hour.
It made me wonder what is available on the topic of sleep and yoga in the research world but also just on the internet.
With my Google Scholar search, many, many hits came back. So, I combed through the most recent and applicable ones I could find, particularly review articles (for good summaries) and ones that related to pregnancy and picked two to review.
The first review article from the International Journal of Yoga, related that the more relaxing and restorative poses practiced, the more likely to experience improved sleep. It stated:
"Restorative postures, savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses which enables downtime for the nervous system, the byproduct often being improved sleep."
Various research studies reviewed found that regular practice resulted in a significant decrease in the time taken to fall asleep, an increase in the total number of hours slept, and in the feeling of being rested in the morning. No who doesn't want that!
The second article was a pilot study in Biological Research for Nursing, where women in their second or third trimester attended weekly mindfulness meditation and prenatal Hatha yoga classes in the community for 7 weeks. They found that:
"[m]indful yoga shows promise for women in their second trimester of pregnancy to diminish total number of awakenings at night and improve sleep efficiency and merits further exploration."
Interestingly, starting a yoga practice in the third trimester did not find significant benefit to quality of sleep. Good thing I've been practicing the whole pregnancy!
I scoped out what I could find on the internet and the Yoga Journal never fails to have an article. It is clear that meditation, light asana practice and breath work are key to helping with sleep and insomnia during the night.
And as a guinea pig this week, after my weekly practice, I slept through the night. Calmed nervous system? Quite likely.
Maybe a yoga night cap is just what I need to start doing,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.