Wake Up Healthier And Happier
Want better sleep, better digestion, better skin, and overall better well-being? Incorporate these little tweaks to your bedtime routine to feel the difference
Yoga is an effective and restorative way to wind down your day and prepare your body for restful sleep. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that people with insomnia practice yoga daily for deeper slumber, and the ability to fall asleep more quickly if you wake up in the middle of the night.
A National Health Interview Survey by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health supports this – over 55 percent of yoga practitioners surveyed, reported improved sleep quality, while over 85 percent said that their practice reduced their stress levels.
Adeline Tien, who teaches Restorative Yoga at The Yoga School agrees. “Yoga connects you to your breath, which triggers your parasympathetic system and tells your body to unwind,” she explains. Citing the Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-wall pose) as one of her favourites (especially when she’s travelling), Adeline suggests it as a great way to foster a meditative state and reset the nervous system every night.
“Lie on your back and rest your legs up against the wall,” she says. “Keep your legs straight or bend your knees – do whichever feels more comfortable for you. It doesn’t matter so long as your legs are positioned higher than your head because when your legs are elevated, your body senses the drop in blood pressure and automatically triggers a relaxation response.” Relax in this position for about five minutes before rolling to one side to exit the pose gently.
Investing a few minutes at the end of the day to come back into yourself is essential to unwinding your mind and calming your body before sleep. Here are some other tweaks you can try:
PUT YOUR SMARTPHONE TO SLEEP
… or at least, put it on silent mode. “Using technology in bed can deprive you of sleep,” says Dr Wendy Welsh, a relationship psychotherapist from the Emmy award-winning talk show, The Doctors Season 4. “The little ‘bings’ and ‘tings’, along with the phone lighting up, may seem like minor disturbances, but they collectively affect sound sleep.”
SLEEP ON TWO PILLOWS
… especially if you’re prone to heartburn. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who propped up their heads by about 28 cm experienced dramatically reduced symptoms. Another tip is to try sleeping on your left side, as lying on your right relaxes the muscle that keeps gastric acids in your stomach.
LIE ON YOUR BACK
… did you know that the way you sleep can affect how you look? Sleeping in an awkward position can lead poor sleep quality, resulting in puffy eyes or dark circles (due to the constriction of blood flow). As we get older, more lines also tend to form on the side we normally sleep on, as skin no longer bounces back as quickly. Sleeping on the side can also add to the formation of cleavage wrinkles!