Your body and mind require time to calm down and decompress from your day before attempting to get some sleep. Luckily, there are plenty of tricks that could help you at bedtime like reading, drinking a hot cup of herbal tea or journaling. But if those tips aren’t enough and you’re still struggling to get some shut-eye, practicing a few yoga poses may be your key to getting a better night’s sleep.
For more natural ways to get better sleep, try these seven sleep aids for insomnia or check out our sleep tips from CNET’s wellness editors.
How yoga can help you sleep
Yoga, just like any exercise, can help your mind destress and decompress from the day. Studies have found that those who practice yoga may present lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The same results concluded that yoga had a similar effect on depression as antidepressants.
What does this mean for your sleep? Well, cortisol levels have been found to have a direct relationship with your sleep. It is often harder to fall asleep with high levels of cortisol in your bloodstream. A 2019 study found that the practice of yoga had a positive effect on treating and improving insomnia.
Top eight yoga poses to do before bed
These poses are for any level of experience and easy enough for beginner yogis. While moving between these poses, remember to pay attention to your breath and where you feel most tension in your body. Breathe and try to relax if you experience any discomfort. Move through these poses for about 20 to 30 minutes before bed.
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To get into this pose, start on your hands and knees. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your knees should be below your hips. Take a deep breath and tilt your head towards the ceiling while also sticking up your pelvis — this should mimic a “cow.” Then, on your exhale, arch your back and bring both your head and pelvis down like a “cat.” You can repeat these two motions a few times before moving on.
This pose is as easy as standing up straight and leaning over to reach for your toes. If you are able, place your hands on the ground. If you are unable to touch your toes, you can do a half-forward fold and grab below your knees. Looking for a challenge? Try reaching around your ankles and hold. Make sure your back is straight and you are taking deep breaths.
Start by lying down on your back, legs and arms stretched out and on the ground. Take a deep breath, raise your core off the ground and shift your arms closer to your body to balance. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. Your hands can lie flat, or you can bring them together underneath your core.
An easy pose to transition into after Bridge — start this pose on your back. Lift your legs to the ceiling and out a little past your shoulders (or however far you can go). Then, grab onto the outside of your feet with both hands. Gently rock left and right to relieve tension in your lower back.
You will need to clear a space beside a wall for this pose. Facing the wall, lie on your back and walk your legs up high or lift your hips with your arms. Your hips can be against the wall or a little away. Once you get in a comfortable spot and you feel like you can balance, stretch your arms out beside you. This pose is great for destressing and improving your circulation.
You can start this pose by kneeling or getting on your hands and knees. Tuck your feet underneath your hips and bring your head close to the ground. Reach your hands out in front of you, stretching your spin. The further out you reach, the better the stretch will be for you.
If you are coming out of Child’s pose for this next one, sit back up and extend your legs out in front of you. Cross one leg over the other, pulling the heel of the crossed leg your outer thigh. With the opposite arm, cross your body and twist yourself, pushing with your elbow on the raised knee. Twist and breathe. Repeat with the other side before moving on.
From a seated position, straighten your posture and press the bottom of both your feet together. Placing your hands on your feet, attempt to press your hips as low as you can to the ground. The lower you go, the bigger the stretch. If you are looking for more of a challenge, move your feet closer to your body.