News flash: we all love coffee, but there's a difference between casually enjoying a cup of Joe with breakfast in the morning and sprinting to Starbucks because you're certain you won't make it through the day without an immediate caffeine fix.
Don't let the latter be a regular habit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain and obesity as well as chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular disease and depression.
Release from child’s pose by slowly coming up to all fours, making sure that your knees are in line with your hips and your wrists with your shoulders. On an exhale round your spine towards the ceiling as you let your head naturally fall towards the floor. (Don’t push your chin to your chest.) As you slowly return to the starting position, move through the motion by lifting your chest and head towards the ceiling and sinking your stomach towards the floor for the “cow” portion of the pose. On your next exhale slowly transition back to “cat.” Focusing on your breath, slowly move back and forth through this sequence for 30 to 60 seconds. Benefits: Relieves stress; stretches the torso and neck; massages the spine Photo Credit: Shutterstock Click here to see more Yoga Poses for The Ultimate Night’s Sleep
Following the cat/cow sequence return to a neutral, flat back position on all fours to start. Walk your hands forward and curl your toes under so that the tops of your feet are flat on the floor. On an exhale, shift your bottom halfway back towards your heels. Press your palms into the ground lightly to prevent your elbows from touching the floor. Slowly release your forehead to the floor and relax your neck. Focus on breathing deeply and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Benefits: Reduces stress; stretches the spine and shoulders Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Roll over onto your back and on an exhale gently draw your knees into your belly. Keeping your knees bent extend your legs out so that the soles of your feet face the ceiling. On an inhale, reach up to grab the outsides of your feet and open your legs slightly wider than your torso. Making sure that your shins are perpendicular to the floor, create a gentle resistance by flexing your feet and pulling down gently with your hands. Focus on breathing deeply and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. (You can also massage your lower back by rocking gently from side to side.) Benefits: Quiets the mind; relieves stress and fatigue; stretches the groin and spine Click here to see more Yoga Poses for The Ultimate Night’s Sleep
From happy baby pose, draw your legs back together and gently hug your knees towards your belly. Let your arms rest at your side and open them up to a “T” position. On an exhale, let your knees slowly fall to the right, using your right hand to gently push them towards the floor. (Don’t force them, only stretch as far as feels comfortable.) Turn your head to the left, fixing your gaze towards your left palm. Focus on breathing deeply and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat the stretch on your left side for another 30 to 60 seconds. Benefits: Enhances breathing; eases neck and back tension; soothes nerves and quiets the mind Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Release from the reclining twist by returning to the center. On an exhale extend both legs out letting them rest on the floor in a neutral position and so that your feet are relaxed and turned outward. Soften the lower back and relax your entire torso; your head should be resting comfortably and your arms extended at your sides with your palms facing up. This pose is about total relaxation so make sure to pay attention to your entire body and don’t forget to soften your jaw and forehead, too. Close your eyes and clear your mind. Focus on your breath and stay here for 60 seconds or more. Photo Credit: Shutterstock Click here to see more Yoga Poses for The Ultimate Night’s Sleep
Of course, everyone experiences trouble sleeping on occasion and sometimes your schedule might prevent you from getting the 7-9 hours of quality sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, but missing that mark on a regular basis puts your overall health and wellbeing at risk.
Because quality sleep is such an important part of maintaining good health, it should be treated as a necessity (like food and water) rather than an indulgence. Your body repairs, re-charges and rejuvenates while you're sleeping; muscles are mended, tissues grow and important hormones are released. When you sleep enough to allow all these processes complete, you'll wake up feeling well-rested.
Struggles with achieving quality sleep on a regular basis aren't uncommon. The CDC says that a quarter of the U.S. population admits to occasionally not getting enough sleep and a recent survey by Gallup revealed that nearly 40% of Americans get less than seven hours a night.
Yet getting to bed on time and sleeping well through the night could be as simple as practicing before bed habits, like yoga, that will relax both the body and mind.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends engaging in calming activities each night before bed and a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who modified their nighttime rituals by including relaxation techniques improved their sleep more than participants who took drugs.
Essentially, it's all about winding down, and several studies have shown that yoga is an extremely effective tool for decreasing stress and anxiety. Not to mention, according to the International Association of Yoga Therapists other health benefits of yoga include increased energy levels, a stronger immune system, and improved mood, just to name a few.
Ready for a better night's sleep? Practice the following 8 poses each night before bed to help melt the day's stress away and ease into a peaceful slumber.
-Katie Rosenbrock, The Active Times
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