With modern technology we struggle to wind down in the evenings. This is keeping our brains active for too long and therefore not helping us to drift off to sleep. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is recommended not to engage in any stimulating activity from around 6pm. This allows the nervous system to calm down and the penial gland to switch on and release melatonin (the hormone that controls our waking and sleeping). It is also believed that your most beneficial sleeping hours are the ones you get before midnight, this is because it’s the most likely time to enter deep sleep, which is when the body is restored both physically and mentally.
With that in mind, it’s much healthier to try and fall asleep earlier in the evening. If you struggle with this there are a few things you can do to help.
- Try not to over stimulate the brain in the evenings: avoid bright lights, avoid using computers or smart phones and avoid too much physical activity
- Use lamps or candles to light your house in the evening
- Take a warm bath with a few drops of relaxing essential oils
- Drinking herbal teas such as chamomile or lemon balm
- Use a pillow or room spray made with essential oils that calm the brain
- Do some gentle yoga poses to calm the nervous system and destress the body
There are also a number of imbalances in the body that can cause you to struggle sleeping, so seeking advice from a professional might be of benefit. I can recommend a wonderful naturopathic nutritionist, Rhi Hepple.
I have put together a series of yoga poses to relax the nervous system and relieve pain and tension in the back, allowing you to relax and fall asleep. This sequence can be done anywhere but I would recommend doing it in bed so that you can drift straight off.
1. Seated Forward Fold – Paschimottanasana
This pose soothes the adrenal glands, helps to activate a sluggish liver and improves digestion, as well as stimulate the reproductive system. It also works to calm the frontal brain and the heart which is ideal before bed.
2. Reclining Bound Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana
Regular practice of this pose increases the flow of blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and back. It also helps to treat arthritis of the knees, hips, and pelvic joints. Bound Angle Pose keeps the kidneys and prostate gland healthy. As well, this is a great pose to reduce sciatic pain.
This pose has several health benefits. It regulates blood pressure as well as working to relieve low back pain, sciatica, indigestion and flatulence
3. Happy Baby Pose – Ananda Balasana
This is a great pose for relieving abdominal discomfort and is a perfect spinal relaxation pose.
4. Wind-Relieving Pose – Pavanamuktasana, followed by knees to chest
This asana removes stiffness in the lower back and relieves backache by helping to align the pelvic area as well as helping to relieve sciatic pain. It also compresses and alternatively releases the large intestine including the transverse colon and improves digestion – do NOT practice this pose if you’re suffering from diarrhea.
5. Reclining/Supine Spinal Twist – Supta Matsyendrasana
All variations of this spinal twist have similar benefits. They relieve pain in the back, help to keep the spine strong and supple, eases a stiff low back (lumbar) area and increases the flexibility of the whole back and hips. These twists also massage, tone, and rejuvenate the internal abdominal organs.
6. Child’s Pose – Balasana
Health benefits of Child’s Pose include stretching and strengthening the hips and thighs, releasing stress in the back and shoulders, and decreasing anxiety. It also provides a sense of calm and stability.
7. Legs Up The Wall Pose – Viparita Karani
This pose uses gravity to recirculate blood that may have stagnated near the feet and ankles back up to the liver.
8. Corpse Pose – Savasana
Savasana removes fatigue and soothes the mind. Each part of the body is positioned properly to achieve total relaxation. It helps to alleviate nervous tension, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.This pose relaxes the whole body and eases breathing, soothes the nervous system and brings peace of mind. Savasana also helps us move towards a refreshing, dreamless sleep, especially for those who have sleep disorders. This is precisely why this pose is the last in this bedtime yoga routine.