Could yoga be the answer to a good night’s sleep?
In this week’s Sleep Diaries, a 49-year-old yoga instructor tries to get back to her sleep routine.
Occupation: Yoga teacher and life coach
Number of hours of sleep you get each night: Seven
Number of hours of sleep you would like to have each night: eight
Grind your teeth: yes i grind my teeth and have to wear a night watchman
Do you measure your sleep in one way or another (for example, using your phone or a portable device): no
How much water do you drink on average per day: 1.5-2 liters
How much exercise do you do on average per week: five days a week
After visiting friends for an outdoor meeting, I get home at 8:15 p.m. Once home, I make a cup of tea and chat with a friend on the phone until 9:55 p.m.
I clean the kitchen and get ready for bed by brushing my teeth, putting on my night shift to avoid grinding my teeth, filling my bottle with water, and taking a small drop of kava oil to promote a deep relaxation.
At 10:45 p.m., I lie down under my weighted blanket. The gathering left me tired, so I fell asleep easily and deeply.
I wake up at 6am and fall asleep for about half an hour and think about my dreams until 7.15am when I actually wake up. I teach a yoga class at 9 a.m., so I end up having breakfast at 9:30 a.m.
I have a productive working day in my home office and choose to have a light dinner at 6 p.m. After dinner, I clean up the junk at work, then watch a comedy series on Netflix for a few hours. However, the distraction of the television does not shake the hustle and bustle I have at work, so I am going to walk around the neighborhood at night before going to bed to free it up. Along the way, I run into a friend on the way home and give him a big hug, so that’s cool.
I do my evening ritual by brushing my teeth, putting on my night shift and putting a drop of kava oil under my tongue. As always, when my head hits the pillow, I fall asleep. I feel like kava oil really supports the quality of my sleep and acts as a natural muscle relaxant.
I wake up at 4:15 am to go to the bathroom, then I fall asleep and wake up until 7:30 am. When I get up to go to the bathroom in the morning I sometimes have a hard time going back to sleep – it’s amazing how quickly the mind starts to spin, so I try to catch up and focus on my breathing instead. than on my thinking brain and it allows me to fall asleep again.
I get up, put on my yoga clothes and go for a yoga class at 8:30 am, come home at 10 am for breakfast. At 11 a.m., I join my friend at her family’s 4th of July celebrations where I eat barbecue food and have a great, sociable time.
My friend and I are going for a walk after our lunch and I get home at 6 p.m. As soon as I get home, I make a fruit smoothie with protein powder for my dinner before going out at 9pm with friends to watch a fireworks display.
I go to bed at 10:40 p.m. I’m tired, it’s a little too late for me – 10pm is better and it’s only now that I realize it. I go through my usual bedtime routine and fall asleep easily.
I manage to wake up at 5am without an alarm clock and decide to start the day. It’s a Monday morning so I want to start the day and the week ahead. I do meditation and spend 10 minutes journaling before practicing yoga and working out all day.
My daughters went to their dad’s this weekend, so I picked them up from school at 5pm and made us dinner at 5.30pm. We spend the rest of the evening hanging out together and at 7:30 p.m. I get them ready for bed. I read them a story in bed at 8 p.m. and my youngest falls asleep first, followed by my oldest daughter and I.
I woke up again at 9:15 p.m. so I was able to do one last kitchen cleaning before running myself a bath with Epsom salts and baking soda. I go to bed at 10:30 p.m.
I wake up at 4:20 am to go to the bathroom and then go back to bed until my alarm clock wakes me up at 5:20 am. It’s really hard to get out of bed this morning, which means I have an early night in store for me tonight – four nights in bed after 10:30 p.m. are taking its toll on me. I record a yoga class, then I start the day by picking up the girls, making breakfast, making their lunch and sending them to school.
The girls are at their daddy’s this week, so I’m having dinner alone at 5:30 p.m. I spend my evening tinkering, listening to a podcast, and reviewing my to-do list for tomorrow’s work. I go to bed at 9:30 p.m. which feels good and I’m extremely happy to crawl into bed under my weighted blanket, intending to resume my routine of being in bed at 9:45 p.m. I fall asleep quickly.
So what does all of this mean? A sleep expert offers her thoughts
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert and professional physiologist, says: ” What can I say ? If it ain’t broke …
“Your lifestyle is exemplary, which is not surprising considering what you do for a living. According to The Sleep Foundation, over 55% of yoga practitioners said their sleep had improved as a result of their career, and over 85% reported reduced stress.
“In fact, numerous studies show that yoga can dramatically reduce sleep disturbances, ranging from snoring and insomnia to restless leg syndrome (RLS), which can affect overall quality of life. And, in his book A journey into Yin Yoga, renowned practitioner Travis Eliot describes the power of yoga for sleep, particularly when it comes to the relaxation-stimulating infant pose, noting that it “activates the nervous system’s relaxation response.”
“I wonder how are your energy levels in general? You don’t say it, but I imagine they are good considering all the great resources you have in place.
Dr Nerina continues, “I would recommend that you just avoid checking what time you wake up during the night. Because, as I mentioned before, while it’s perfectly normal to wake up at night, looking at the clock brings us to mindfulness, which then makes it harder to fall back to sleep.
Dr Nerina concludes, “You do the right thing by using your breathing to go back to sleep, and your journaling is great for your bruxism (teeth grinding) because the more you relax, the less tension you will maintain in your jaw. .
“To that end, you might also want to try doing more lion pose in your yoga practice with an emphasis on releasing sound when you open your mouth for the roar. Otherwise, it’s great! Keep up the good work.
Images: Getty / Dr Nerina Ramlakhan