Sleep is something that some people can struggle with their whole lives, whereas others develop sleep issues when stressed, or as they age.
Sleep is one of those things we often overlook when talking about health, but it is truly one of the most marvellous parts of human evolution. At night, when we sleep, our brains shut almost all functions down, allowing us to rest, recharge, and recuperate for the next day.
Without sleep, we’re more likely to be irritable, tired or run down, and for seniors, this means they can be at a higher risk of having a fall. As a result, creating and maintaining a good sleep schedule is essential for maintaining overall good health in the senior population.
Yoga has been shown to have a number of positive effects, particularly on sleep. It is a great exercise for any time of day, but can be particularly useful as a tool to unwind and relax before going to sleep.
The key for using yoga to help with sleep comes from the focus on the breath. One of the main aspects of yoga is controlling your breath throughout each movement or stretch.
This focus helps to create mindfulness, as well as grounding you in the moment and helping you relax and calm down all your body systems in preparation for bed. You don’t have to do yoga to achieve this, but it is a great way to create this sense of focus and breathing.
All yoga poses can be modified for the level you are able to work at, so if a pose is too hard for you right now, try an easier modification and work up to it over time. Before going to bed, you want to make sure not to do exercises that are too stimulating, instead focusing on slow and methodical movements.
Some routines may include poses such as child’s pose, a supine twist, a happy baby pose, a cat cow pose, or even having your legs up against the wall. You can also do a yoga pose where you are lying still on the ground and focusing on your breath for 10 minutes as a cool down.
Yoga for sleep is usually done in the home, and can even be performed on the bed. Holly Lea has a number of tranquil and calming spots available, meaning you can view a lush garden or open the window for the sweet smell of rain to help increase the mindfulness of your yoga session.
The facilities at Holly Lea can also serve to increase the effectiveness of the pre-bed yoga routine, with insulated rooms keeping all the rooms comfortable, even on a rainy or windy day.
It is important to make sure not to strain yourself too much when exercising, and make no mistake, yoga is an exercise. Modifications can be made to the length of the movement, or the range of the movement to decrease the intensity and allow accessibility for people who are just beginning their yoga journey. You can also use props like foam inserts or chairs to assist you, and for stability and comfort.
Sleep is more difficult for seniors, for a variety of reasons. Establishing a good routine to calm down and relax is a great way to encourage sleep, as it can train the body to certain cues that create changes in the chemicals responsible for sleepiness.
Yoga is a great exercise for sleep, as it focuses on the breath which can help you to relax and unwind to prepare for bed. It also helps you to destress and reduces anxiety through mindfulness and grounding techniques.
Incorporating yoga into your bedtime routine is a great thing to try when you are struggling with sleep. It is something that can be done at little to no cost, and is able to be amended to suit almost any level of fitness or frailty.
We would strongly encourage you to try yoga for sleep, and to send this article around to any friends, family, or loved ones who you know also struggle with sleep. The suggested yoga poses are by no means an exhaustive list, but are a great place for beginners to start, and will help you relax before bed.
Sleep struggles can be hard, but the residents of Holly Lea are fortunate to have a beautiful and tranquil place to practise their yoga for sleep.
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