by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
Something new to try – yoga techniques for insomnia
Getting a good night’s sleep is underrated in our fast-paced culture and it can be hard to get into the habit of a good sleep routine. Research has shown that yoga can help insomnia. A small Harvard study showed that by practicing just 30-45 minutes of yoga, people fell asleep 30% faster and reduced their nighttime waking by 35%.
Kundalini is an ancient form of yoga based on the concept that there is “coiled energy” in the spine which connects to the “subtle body’s” energy centers and channels. The scientific community is studying Kundalini techniques, such as alternate nostril breathing, that are currently being practiced to help people manage anxiety, insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Alternate nostril breathing. When we’re under stress or feeling anxious, we tend to breathe mostly out of our right nostril, which is connected to our left brain. This activates our sympathetic nervous system, the channel responsible for the classic stress response – dilated pupils, increased core temperature, sweating, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Check throughout the day to see what’s true for you — are you left or right-nostril dominant, or is your breathing alternating and balanced?
If you’re having trouble relaxing and falling asleep, or if you wake up during the night, try gently holding your right nostril closed with your finger, and breathe deeply and slowly through your left nostril for at least 3 minutes. Then release your finger and breathe normally.
This type of breathing is simple, but it may take some practice before you’re able to do it for several minutes at a time. If you have nasal congestion, try again later. This technique can be very effective and calming.
One of the most wonderful ways to quiet your mind is through meditation. Meditation offers many health benefits, improving blood pressure, circulation, and heart health. It also supports mood, self-confidence, and relaxation.
Try this method to help clear away worries before bed. Focus on your breathing, without trying to change it. Quietly notice your inhalation and exhalation, returning your thoughts to your breathing whenever you realize you have become distracted. For more information on the wonderful benefits of breathing, read our article, “Deep Breathing – The Truly Essential Exercise.”
Good sleep is important to our overall health and wellbeing. During sleep, our cells take the time to heal and detoxify, refueling and recharging for the day ahead. By starting slow and making small changes, you can discover what techniques help you get the best night’s sleep.