If there’s one thing we’ve come to realise, it’s nothing kick-starts a blog better than an unhealthy dollop of alarming news, and that’s exactly what we’re about to do…
BREAKING NEWS: Sleep deprivation has become an epidemic on this great isle of ours.
The reason we’re telling you this in such a blunt-force trauma type way isn’t because we like being all click-baity and whatnot. It’s because we think everyone needs to understand just how bad the situation has got. Not only is 37% of the population not getting enough shuteye, us Brits are now the most sleep-deprived people on the planet. That’s right. On. The. Planet.
“How has this happened?” We hear you croak with exhaustion. And it’s a good question. Unfortunately, though, we haven’t got a definitive answer. However, it’s probably got a lot to do with our stress-filled, caffeine-driven, politically-diabolical and screen-obsessed lifestyles. I mean, at the very least, that’s got to play a supporting role.
Anyway, the reason sleep deprivation is so bad is, well, there are loads of reasons. In fact, we’ll take you through some of them now:
- You start to crave high-calorie foods.
- Your metabolism gets screwed around.
- Weight gain becomes way easier.
- It’s as physically bad for you as smoking.
- Your chances of Alzheimer’s goes up. A lot.
- And so does your chance of heart disease.
Basically, no good can come from starving your brain of its much-needed sleep, which begs the question: what on earth can we do to tackle the epidemic?
Well, one of the more surprising answers is yoga. Yup. All that stretchy-wetchy stuff you thought was a passing fad used by people to grow their Instagram accounts is actually great at helping sleep-sufferer’s get some sleep. It’s soporific shall we say. Yeah. It’s got a soporific force. A dual action one, in fact. As you indulge in a yoga session, not only do your muscles start to tire, the natural mindfulness part of the process helps you get rid of all that pent-up stress you’ve been living with. Ergo, you fall asleep faster and for longer.
To help you get a way better understanding of all this, we’ve outlined pretty much everything you need to know about yoga’s secret sleep benefits. Namaste and goodnight.
- Relax, Refresh, Revive
Yoga’s greatest superpower is its ability to revive your body. That’s what most people love it for, especially ex-insomniacs. It does this is by releasing the nasty toxins stored in your muscles and organs, while the controlled breathing exercises boost your circulation of oxygen, which is soooo important for replenishing your body.
To translate this into sleepy-talk, try enjoying a short burst of yoga right before your bedtime. All you need is a moment or two of meditation and then spend a few minutes of seated twists, cross-legged bends, half-happy baby and a knee-to-chest pose. The trick is to stay focused on the breathing part – that’s how to get your stresses and strains to float away.
- Dear Stress, Let’s Break Up
Most people think stress is just a mental state of turbulence. That goes for you too, anxiety. However, both stress and anxiety manifest themselves physically as well. They affect your immune system, they wreak havoc on your digestion and, as you know all too well, stop you sleeping too. In fact, 70% of stress-inflicted people have problems slipping off to sleep, which is a vicious cycle to be caught in.
That’s where yoga swoops in wearing a cape. It reduces your body’s natural response to stress and worry and, by doing this, it also reduces certain physical ailments like high blood pressure, high heart rates and even respiratory issues. In short: it’s good.
- Peace And Calm, Baby
Yoga makes you feel peaceful. It submerges you in an undeniable sense of calm and tranquillity. The words alone are about as serene as anything can get, words like Shanti, lotus, namaste, sky above, earth below and peace within. It’s all designed to put your mind at ease. The gentle poses, relaxing settings, evocative music, genial instructions, amazing breathing techniques and the counting to ten or so on each posture. It’s all about establishing a super-peaceful atmosphere, which is essential to getting a good night’s rest. There are no two ways about it: yoga is the perfect way to unwind after a hectic day of living life.
- No More Nerves
We’re not sure how seriously you took science at school, but the nervous system is made up of your brain and spinal cord and is the one part of you that reacts to sensory stimulation. In slumber-terms, the hormone levels in your brain change the moment you drift off to sleep and that makes your nervous system change modes. Essentially, you go into standby mode, just without a little red light coming on. Unconsciousness. That’s the word we were looking for. You become unconscious.
Why are we telling you all this sciency-stuff? Because yoga can help with this, and it does so by increasing the flow of blood to the Sleep HQ part of your brain, which stimulates the glands in charge of releasing your much-loved sleep hormones. It’s simple (in a really complex way).
- Replace Your Old Routine
If you’re one of those people that get into bed, turns off the light and then stares at a bright-blue light held four inches from your eyes, then it’s no wonder you spend the first couple of hours tossing and turning, unable to turn your brain off. The blue light emitted from phones, tablets and televisions has been proven to release cortisol because your nervous system isn’t sure if it’s night or day or day or night and so it freaks out.
Cue a spot of yoga. Instead of scrolling through your endless Instagram feed or trying to catch up on all those WhatsApp groups you’re apart of, try doing a few yoga poses before you slip beneath the covers. Not only will you have shown some self-discipline, you’ll have swapped the stress of screens for a release of tension and that will lull you into the right frame of mind for sleeping.
- Bends That Will Break Your Insomnia
Not everyone is going to have the time to lay on their bedroom floor and bend for an hour until their mind and muscles finally given in to the siren calls of sleep. We know that. Luckily for you, we’ve pulled together a list of poses that are super-simple to master and can easily be completed in just a few minutes. Mmm hmm. Simply work your way through these yoga bends nice and smoothly, holding each for several seconds, and you’ll find yourself feeling calm, centered, tension-free and so relaxed you’ll be snoring before your head hits the pillow:
- Child’s Pose
- Downward Facing Dog
- Upward Facing Dog
- Seated Twist
- Head To Knee
- Cross-Legged Bend
- Seated Straddle
- Forward Bend
- Legs Up The Wall
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