Despite the fact that we all share the need for sleep, not everyone has an easy time clocking in on this basic necessity. Getting quality sleep and recharging our energy tanks after an exhausting day should feel blissful, but for many of us, it can feel like a waking nightmare. About a quarter of all Americans agree that bedtime can feel like an incredibly arduous and frustrating task. What can be done to counter such a widespread issue, you may ask? For decades, scientists have been studying the nuances of insomnia in hopes of finding the universal remedy. Those who suffer from insomnia have likely tried many of these countermeasures, ranging from milder remedies like chamomile tea and melatonin to more potent alternatives like tranquilizers and prescription sleep aids. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all cure for sleeping disorders does not currently exist in the market. However, studies have shown that yoga can serve as a compelling and effective holistic remedy for those suffering from insomnia. The best part: yoga is healthy, free, and can be practiced directly from the comfort of your home! In this latest installment of our Sleep Health Guide, we will be reviewing a few in-bed yoga poses that you can easily incorporate into your bedtime routine.
Additional Tips for Bedtime Yoga
The poses we will be discussing today can be practiced directly from the comfort of your bed, and can be easily incorporated into your bedtime routine. Before commencing bedtime yoga, it is important to create circumstances that will provide you with the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep. This may include:
- putting away electronics and/or other distractive elements
- setting up a relaxing ambiance (e.g., candles, soft music, clearing clutter off the bed, replacing bed sheets)
- consuming your final meal at least 3 hours before bedtime: this will allow your body time to digest food contents and help avoid the risk of heartburn, upset stomach, and frequent late-night bathroom breaks
- avoiding caffeine late in the day
- creating a nighttime ritual: set up a bedtime schedule and stick to it nightly, regardless of how tired or awake you may feel.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (aka Reclining Goddess Pose)
- Begin by lying on your back with knees bent. Allow your knees to splay outward on either side so that you can bring the soles of your feet together.
- If you’d like, you may place a pillow under each knee for support. The pillows can serve as comfortability props, but are also helpful if you feel too much strain in the groin area or hips. By elevating the knees slightly, pillows can help alleviate any tension or tightness you may be experiencing in this pose.
- You may either rest your hands on your stomach or at your sides. Alternatively, you may also stretch your arms out to form a T-shape. You may remain in this position for several minutes and continue to feel the stretch deepen. Try to keep your eyes closed and take deep breaths throughout this pose.
- When you’re ready to release, slowly lift your knees back up and join them together. Roll over onto one side and carefully prop yourself up into an upright position.
Supine Spinal Twist
- Find a comfortable spot on your bed and lie on your back. Proceed to bend your knees while keeping the soles of your feet planted on the bed.
- Slowly bring your right knee up and hug it towards your chest as you straighten your left leg out.
- On your next exhalation, cross your right knee over to the left side of your body, all while maintaining the bend in the crossed knee. At this point, your hips will be stacked.
- Straighten your arms out on either side so that your upper body forms a T-shape. Splaying your arms out in this T-shape will help ensure that your right shoulder remains flat on the bed throughout this pose. You may also tuck your right foot into the crook of your left knee if you find this comfortable.
- With your right leg crossed over to the left side of your body, you have the option of turning your head to the right. This will deepen the twist and further engage the body, but this step is entirely optional as it may be uncomfortable for some people.
- Hold this pose for a few breaths. Then, when you’re ready to release, you may uncross your right knee and begin to straighten it out. Try this pose on the other side, with your left knee crossing over onto the right side of your body.
- Begin by coming up to a seated position on your bed, with legs straightened out in front of you.
- Bend your knees. Bring one foot towards your pelvis, then the other foot. Allow the soles of your feet to touch (just like Reclining Bound Angle Pose), and try pulling your heels as closely to your pelvis as possible.
- Your knees may refuse to lay flat on the bed and instead spring up towards the air; that’s okay! This may mean that your inner thigh muscles are tight, but this pose is perfect for stretching those very muscles out, as well as for opening up the hips. If your muscles are too tight to stay comfortably in this pose, you may slide your feet a few inches away from your pelvis or until your knees are able to remain flat on the bed.
- There are a few variations you can try out from here:
- You may grip your feet with your hands and begin slowly flapping your knees up and down, simulating the flapping wings of a butterfly. If you find this easy, you may increase your flap speed and bask in the interactive stretch.
- Gripping your feet with your hands, rest your elbows on your knees. If you would like to deepen the stretch, use your elbows to gently press down on your knees to bring them closer to the bed.
- With hands gripping your feet, very slowly bring your upper body down to fold over your legs. You can bend forward a couple of inches or go as far as to bring your forehead down to make contact with the floor. As long as you feel the stretch, you’re doing it right!
If you’re trying a yoga pose out for the first time, it’s important to remember that there is never a need to force your body into a position it is not ready for. With consistent practice, you will be able to sink deeper into poses and likely discover a newfound potential you didn’t know you had in you! And to all our fellow night owls: we hope that some of these tips will serve you well and grant you a lifetime’s worth of restful nights.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Sleep Health Guide series! For more resources, we welcome you to check out MixPose and join a live yoga class to see what all the hubbub is about!