Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better

Difficulty sleeping is extremely common, with over 164 million Americans struggling with sleep disorders. Tossing and turning can negatively impact mental and physical health.

The good news? Evidence shows that a regular yoga practice helps reduce insomnia symptoms and improve sleep quality by lowering stress and anxiety levels. When done properly, yoga poses, meditation, and breathing exercises cue the body to prepare for rest.

In this blog post guide, we will discuss how to utilize yoga specifically geared towards better sleep and maintaining sleep hygiene.

How Yoga Helps Improve Sleep

Yoga enhances sleep in several ways:

Muscle Relaxation Many poses gently stretch tight muscles, reducing tension and making it easier to unwind at night.

1. Lowers Stress & Anxiety

Through meditation, positive thinking, and relaxing breathwork, yoga helps manage worry and racing thoughts that keep people up.

2. Calms Nervous System

Slow paced movement combined with focused breathing activates the body’s parasympathetic “rest and digest” response for deeper relaxation.

3. Regulates Melatonin

Gentle backbends help stimulate the pineal gland’s melatonin production, the hormone responsible for controlling sleep/wake cycles.

woman with cat yoga pose


Best Soothing Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

Here are some of the top yoga postures to incorporate into a bedtime routine:

1. Child’s Pose Targets: Lower back tension relief, restorative

Begin on your hands and knees, big toes touching. As you exhale slowly sit back towards your feet, resting your torso on your thighs. Reach arms extended or stacked under your forehead. Focus on relaxing muscles for 30 seconds up to a few minutes.

2. Legs Up the Wall Targets: Reduces anxiety and fatigue, insomnia

Sit sideways beside a wall, legs extended up wall while back/head rest on floor. Place hands in prayer position on chest and close eyes, breathing deeply to let gravity ease tension for 5+ minutes. Optional: place an eye pillow over eyes.

3. Seated Spinal Twist Targets: Aids digestion, wrings out tension

Sit with bent legs. As you exhale twist your torso and place opposite hand to knee, other arm behind back. Turn head to look over shoulder stretching spine. Repeat other side. Hold for 30-60 seconds each side.

These relaxing yoga poses can be done as part of a pre-bedtime routine to help you unwind for quality sleep. Practice daily to reduce insomnia symptoms.

woman with table yoga pose

Determining The Best Time for Bedtime Yoga

When is the optimal time to practice yoga for better sleep? As part of good sleep hygiene experts recommend winding down 1-2 hours before bedtime. The key is allowing enough time for your body temperature to lower after practice.

Some tips:

  • Practice yoga earlier at night, approx. 60-90 minutes before getting in bed.
  • Avoid rigorous exercise that raises cortisol close to bedtime.
  • Notice when is best – morning yoga energizes some people.

Listen to your body and notice when you feel most relaxed after yoga. Adjust timing if needing to recover flexibility before climbing in bed.

Guided Sleep Meditations for Deeper Relaxation

If you experience racing thoughts or anxiety preventing good sleep, try concluding your evening yoga routine with a guided sleep meditation.

There are many free apps like Calm, Insight Timer, and Liberate stocked with meditations aimed specifically to help relax the body in preparation for rest. Popular bedtime themes:

  •  Body scanning
  • Gratitude
  •  Sinking into a warm bath
  • Being rocked gently like a baby

These soothing visualizations shift the mind away from stress towards a place of ease. Deep breathing combined with sleep-inducing cues also increases the production of GABA and serotonin while reducing worrying thought patterns.

Yoga Nidra – The Yogic Sleep

Yoga nidra is a powerful guided meditation that allows you to tap into a deeply restorative state between waking and sleeping. Often called yogic or psychic sleep, it has proven benefits for improving length and quality of nighttime sleep when practiced regularly.

Here’s a quick yoga nidra routine you can do before bed:

  • Get comfortable lying on your back in savasana, arms slightly away from your sides with palms facing up.
  • Settle in, feeling supported by the floor. Soften muscles starting from feet and moving upwards.
  • Turn attention to your breath, focusing on natural rhythm for 1-2 minutes.
  • Move through body/breath awareness exercises as guided by teacher or app.
  • Sink into complete stillness for 5-15 minutes as you are led to access subconscious levels.
  • Emerge slowly; take time to incorporate any insights.

When performed with yogic skill, yoga nidra guides your brainwaves from active beta into restorative delta for cellular-level rejuvenation that supports high quality sleep.

The Takeaway

Embrace Yoga, Improve Your Sleep Difficulty falling or staying asleep is an extremely common issue plaguing wellbeing. Meditative movement practices like yoga for sleep have scientifically-backed benefits for enhancing sleep quality through relaxation.

Commit to winding down nightly through gentle bedtime yoga poses, breathwork, and guided sleep meditations. Support the foundation by applying healthy sleep hygiene habits around screens, diet, environment and schedules.

Instead of tossing, turn to time-tested holistic tools like yoga for falling asleep faster and sleeping more soundly. Allow your body to tap into deep restorative states through the calming power of breath-synchronized movement. Say goodbye to counting sheep – let yoga guide you consciously into peaceful slumber.