It’s estimated that 1/3 of us suffer from insomnia from time to time.
We either have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, or both.
Sometimes insomnia is the result of an illness or medication. But if you’ve ruled that out, the underlying cause of insomnia is often mental or emotional stress:
- When our nervous system is hyped up, we’re going to find it near impossible to relax enough to get to sleep.
- Unresolved emotions keep us awake at night. These feelings that we don’t feel in the day (because we don’t want to or they’re too painful), haunt us at night when our defences are down.
When sleep is elusive, it can really affect our mental and emotional health. Sleep is a healer, and in our dreams, we resolve much of our emotional stuff. So without good sleep, our emotions and negative mind can really wear us down.
The sleepless are also more prone to anxiety, depression, muscle pain and inflammation.
Tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine, especially after midday.
- Alcohol interferes with good quality sleep, so limit your intake.
- Minimise screen time 2hrs before bed as the blue light from screens interfere with melatonin (the sleep hormone).
- Get sunshine during the day to boost natural levels of melatonin.
- Sleep in a dark room or use an eye mask.
- Have a regular sleep schedule – aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
- Eat foods rich in tryptophan – turkey, cheese, and eggs. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is the precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Relax before bed.
- Journal about your day to discharge emotional stress.
- Practice yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises).
The best yoga poses for insomnia are:
Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani). Relieving insomnia is just one of the many benefits of this pose.
Child’s pose (Balasana). Mild inversions, where the head is lower than the heart, are calming on the nervous system. And when we apply gentle pressure to the forehead, we stimulate blood flow to the prefrontal cortex (front part of the brain responsible for calm, clear thinking), which helps the mind to slow down.
Constructive Rest Pose. This is the number one relaxation pose to release the psoas muscle. You can read more about the psoas and stress here.
Standing forward bend (Uttanasana). Forward bending poses and being upside down are relaxing for the mind and nervous system.
Yoga Practice for Insomnia
If you feel restless before bed and need to move some stagnant energy, try this evening wind down class
Or if you’re tired and want something low-key, try this Yoga Class for Insomnia
While these Yoga classes aren’t an instant fix, they might just give you the space to wind down and process your stress.
Meditation is also an effective tool for calming our minds and de-stressing. You can learn how to make this a habit at