Breathe, meditate and a mantra for sleep

If you spend many nights counting sheep and trying to get some good quality sleep or are sleep deprived then the answer might lie in yoga. Chanting ‘Om’, meditation and learning yoga breathing exercises is, according to a recent study, a way to not only drop off more easily but have a better sleep once you’ve actually nodded off.

Most people agree that a good sleep is usually around the eight hour mark and a peaceful slumber is where you slip into sweet dreams easily and don’t keep waking up during the night. There are lots of theories about how to fall asleep, as well as ideas such as staying up an hour after midnight means you need two hours of sleep to compensate. What has to have an impact though is what you do during the day and it seems yoga is sleep inducing in a positive way.

A Harvard Medical School study looked at all aspects of a good night’s sleep over an eight week period. 20 subjects kept sleep diaries, as well as a couple of weeks before any changes were made. After two weeks the participants practiced yoga before going to bed with one-on-one sessions and then alone with some telephone guidance, all the time recording their sleep patterns in a diary.

Researchers found that there were changes for the better in terms of total sleep time. as well as the total wake time between sleeps. Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, Sat Bir Khalsa PhD believes it’s the mind and body benefits of yoga that help insomniacs. “Yoga is an effective treatment because it addresses insomnia’s physical and psychological aspects.”

Other differences noted included improvements in the sleep onset latency – the time it takes to go from being awake to fast asleep – and the wake after sleep onset – the amount of time spent awake once you have fallen asleep. In general there was a noticeable improvement in sleep efficiency.

It’s no real surprise that so many people aren’t getting enough sleep. Modern day life is not only non-stop but the pressures of work, family and life in general are not always easy to switch off from. Going from a hectic day to sweet dreams and a serene slumber is not always an easy step. There are those who lie in bed awake for hours unable to sleep despite being exhausted, and those who burn the candle at both ends and are simply not allowing their bodies enough time to have a quality sleep.

Feeling irritable from lack of sleep is one thing but another study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that sleep deprivation might also affect your metabolic rate and your insulin secretion when you are awake. The six week study suggest that not getting enough sleep or not getting sleep when you need it could lead to weight gain and obesity, and increase the risk of diabetes.

Next time you have a good sleep in you don’t have to feel guilty about it and instead think that your sleep is actually helping your overall health. Give us a call to find out about what yoga can do for you and how it might help you get some quality zzzs.