Keep Stress at Bay with Yoga and Sleep

Sharing this Article about the sleep benefits of Yoga during this very active time in our culture...

     Keep Stress at Bay with Yoga and Sleep

Technology seems to propel the world to move at an ever-increasing pace. For many, that breakneck pace makes stress a constant companion, making stress management a necessary part of daily life. Together, yoga and sleep can bring you to a place of self-awareness and emotional balance where stress may be present but doesn't overwhelm your life.


Although chronic stress can be harmful, short-term stress was a great advantage in human history. Biologically, stress protects you from danger by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to trigger the fight or flight response. However, chronic stress keeps these hormones flowing through the body when no physical danger is present. Prolonged exposure can lead to headaches, inflammation, anxiety, irritability, and appetite changes.


However, with a little as 12 minutes of daily yoga, inflammation and other symptoms of stress can be reduced. In a study conducted amongst pregnant women, those who regularly practiced yoga showed an ability to not only reduce their inflammation and stress levels but their perception of stress by 31 percent.  


Yoga has also been used to study the effects of stress and sleep quality among nurses. In this case, participants were divided into two groups. One group went about their regular schedule while the other participated in a 50 to 60-minute yoga routine twice a week. After six months, the yoga group reported less work-related stress and an improvement in their sleep quality.


Yoga and good sleep go hand-in-hand for many reasons. Not only can yoga be used to reduce stress for better rest, but when used as a form of vigorous exercise, it can help wear out the body, so you're more tired at night.


The quality of your sleep makes a big difference in your stress levels. When you’re tired, cortisol levels go up, making it more difficult to manage emotions because the emotional center of the brain becomes more sensitive to negative stimuli. At the same time, sleep deprivation causes your higher reasoning functions to decrease, making you more susceptible to those negative emotions.


With a focus on good sleep hygiene, you can help restore the balance between your emotional and reasoning centers of your brain. Sleep hygiene includes all the behaviors and habits in your life that affect the quantity and quality of your sleep. Good sleep starts in a bedroom with the right atmosphere for rest.  Start with comfort - a mattress that supports your preferred sleep position. Check mattress reviews to see if yours is a good fit for you. The bedroom should be kept cooler for optimal sleeping conditions. Minimize noise and light with curtains and a white noise machine.


The choices and decisions that you make throughout the day all come back to impact your sleep. To help you fall asleep and stay asleep try:


  • Keeping a Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule: The body controls the sleep-wake cycle through 24-hour biological and physiological cycles called circadian rhythms. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps your brain follow your natural rhythms.

  • Eating Regularly Timed and Spaced Meals: A well-balanced diet is always a part of a healthy lifestyle, but when you eat also plays a role as it affects your circadian rhythms. A regular eating schedule allows your body to adjust to your routine, including when to start the release melatonin and other sleep hormones.

  • Developing a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: A bedtime routine is a great place to incorporate a few gentle yoga poses to relieve stress and tension. It's also the time to perform activities that calm your mind and body like reading a good book or taking a warm bath. Be sure to complete the routine at the same time and in the same order each day.