How Yoga and Meditation Can Help You Sleep Well

Author’s avatar OptimumSleep

I have a question for you — what do you do when you are not able to sleep?

  1. Keep tossing and turning in the bed, hoping to find some precious sleep at some stage during the night, hopefully not hours from now?
  2. Get up, watch television, or eat something?
  3. Take a sedative?
  4. Decide to practice yoga and meditation regularly?

So, do you go for any of these options? If not, which one do you think you’d prefer?

I know, I know - with all these questions, this must be starting to feel like an interrogation or some kind of lame game show…

I’m only asking you these to test if you are aware of some of the more healthy ways to get some sleep. You must have guessed the “correct” answer, which is option 4 - ‘practice yoga and meditation.’

But, are you actually practicing it? Chances are, so far, you’ve been relying only on the first three options, or even some other method, perhaps because you were not aware of exactly how yoga and meditation are actually excellent tools to help you sleep well.

Image Source: Unsplash

But now, I am here to tell you all about it. Prepare for some ‘enlightenment.’ Let’s begin with some in-depth information about how yoga and meditation can prevent insomnia and induce a sound sleep needed to feel fresh and energetic the next day.

8 Ways Yoga And Meditation Can Beat Insomnia

1. They Make Muscles Happy

Your body is in a state of complete relaxation once you are asleep. If you can reach this blissful state of relaxation before you fall asleep, though, then falling asleep becomes a whole lot easier.

This is a state that you can achieve by practicing yoga on a regular basis. For instance, practicing pranayama poses focuses your thoughts on the breathing process.

As a result, all the muscles in your body can let go of the tension within them. They become loose and enter a phase of complete relaxation.

Within just a few minutes, your relaxed body will help you enter a lovely, deep sleep phase. Practicing pranayama offers the best sleep-inducing effect when practiced about half an hour before bedtime.

2. What About Mental ’Stiffness?’

Did you know there is a state that could be considered ‘mental stiffness,’ as well? It’s not just your muscles that need to be relieved of stiffness and tension.

Even your mind, a ‘stiff’ mind, can prevent you from falling asleep. For example, when you are holding on to a thought, whether pleasant or unpleasant, getting stuck on it won’t let you sleep.

You may keep thinking of how you will convince your new client to close the deal or daydream about the dinner date you have with your beloved over the weekend.

In both cases, you will stay awake!

However, practicing meditation before bed will relieve this ‘stiffness’ of the mind. It will take your attention away from these thoughts so that your mind becomes clear, and allowing you to sleep.

And yes, you may continue dreaming (not daydreaming) about your date in your sleep. And that’s what you want - to dream only in your sleep if you don’t want to meet your date with dark circles under your eyes!

3. Yuck, Toxins!

Toxins are everywhere, it’s almost impossible to escape them, and we seem to be exposed to them everywhere, even in the air we breathe. Not only that, as well as breathing them, we also ingest them in the food and drink we take into our bodies through skin contact with different products, items, and surfaces… as I said; they’re everywhere.

And when you are regularly exposed to toxins, your body’s natural functions are bound to suffer.

The toxins in food and pollution can affect the balance of chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. These chemicals, particularly the hormone cortisol, won’t let you sleep very well due to creating stress and anxiety in your mind.

This is where regular yoga and meditation practice can come to your rescue. Research has proven that yoga and meditation can induce a faster removal of toxins accumulated in your body by stimulating natural detoxification processes.

This will help lower cortisol levels and reduce stress and anxiety, allowing you to fall into a deep restorative sleep.

4. Pain Relief

Pain is one thing that will not let you sleep well. It can be in your back, legs, joints, name any body part, and chances are you’ll feel pain there at some stage in your life!

The next time you experience pain that keeps you awake, instead of popping a painkiller, try some meditation or yoga. Research has proven that some yoga poses can provide significant relief from pain.

The slow and steady movements you have to perform while practicing yoga poses can increase the blood flow to the joints and muscles, thus improving their natural healing powers.

Yoga poses include movements that include extension, flexion, rotation, adduction, and abduction of the joints. These movements can build joint strength by engaging the muscles in a phase of isometric contraction.

These benefits stemming from practicing yoga poses will improve the healing of damaged tissues and relieve pain, allowing you to enjoy a restful sleep.

5. It Works for Pain in the Head, Too

Migraines. Absolutely horrible, and definitely not something that is going to let you get off to sleep. If you have problems with regular migraines, then you should give serious thought to experiencing the benefits of yoga and meditation.

Yoga can cause relaxation of the blood vessels in the head. This will stop the intense throbbing sensation, which characterizes migraine headaches. And once this ends, sleeping well won’t be a problem anymore.

6. I Have to Get up Early Tomorrow

Just knowing you have to get up early the next morning can be enough to trigger stressful anxiety, which causes the exact opposite of what you want to happen - sleeplessness.

Thinking about the early start combined with the frustration and worry at not being able to get to sleep means you could end up clock-watching, and working out how many hours you have to get some sleep, and getting increasingly stressed and anxious as that number gets lower and lower.

It’s one of life’s vicious cycles!

If you suffer from these kinds of stressful thoughts and anxiety from not being able to sleep with an early start looming, practicing mindfulness meditation is definitely recommended.

It concentrates your thoughts on your breathing, and then, on your inner self. It takes your mind off everything that’s not needed, causing the anxiety to melt away, and letting you fully relax and enjoy a night of undisturbed sleep.

7. Give Yourself a Melatonin Boost

If you want to sleep well, one thing that will help is the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

This hormone, which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle, is mostly associated with a better quality of sleep. So, if you want to enjoy a sound sleep, what you need is plenty of melatonin, which yoga can provide you with.

Scientific investigations have shown that regular yoga practices can elevate melatonin levels significantly, thereby improving sleep quality.

8. Set the Clock, Not the Alarm

Do you know what’s unique about yoga and meditation? If you practice these ancient methods of holistic healing regularly, you won’t even have to set your alarm every day.

These natural sleep-inducing methods can set the internal biological clock of your body to a particular schedule.

As a result, you will get a sound sleep for 8 hours every night, eventually occurring at a fixed time. Regular yoga practices can set your body’s ‘schedule’ so that you will be able to get up feeling fresh and energetic the next morning without an alarm blaring a loud irritating noise.

Now, this is something that almost anyone would appreciate. Don’t you think so? I know I hate alarms, even though they’re somewhat essential to most people.

9. The Power Of Unity

So far, you have heard of the power of unity during elections, employee unions, student assemblies, and so on. ‘Unity’ seems to be a buzzword in political and social justice circles.

But on a personal level, there is undoubtedly power in unity of your mind, body, and soul. When your mind, body, and soul come together, you can achieve great heights for improving your health.

And this power can be achieved by practicing mindfulness meditation. It harmonizes your body’s functions and unifies them with your inner self, which includes your mind and soul, thereby settling you into a state of calmness and serenity.

Meditation brings all these three forms of your existence together so that you, as a whole, can focus on one thing. So, when it’s nighttime, and you want to relax and sleep, through meditation, your body, mind, and soul cooperate to let you enter a deep phase of sleep.

Whether you believe in the soul or whether you think it’s a hippy-dippy concept and prefers to think only of the physical body and the mind, practicing meditation will still have the same effect - that’s the beauty of it!

The Bottom-line

Yoga and meditation are now accepted by many, even with both the mainstream and medicine, alongside conventional treatments.

These two ancient systems of healing have the potential to provide relief from a vast array of health problems, and as already discussed, that also includes insomnia!

Now, I want to ask you again…. what have you decided? Do you still want to rely on sedative pills? Or keep moving restlessly in the bed? Of course not.

I am sure after reading these benefits of yoga and meditation, you must, at the very least, be open to and considering an alternative solution for your sleep and overall health.

Seize the day and start practicing yoga and meditation regularly so that every night you lie down on your fantastic soft mattress, you can feel instant relaxation that will induce a peaceful night’s sleep.