Everything You Need to Know About Pranayama and Sleep

Welcome to Wellness Wednesday by Julian Brass, also known as Yoga CEO. Each week Julian answers a reader question about yoga and how it benefits everyday occurrences in our personal and professional lives. This week, Julian goes deep on sleep and how yoga can help relieve difficulties nodding off.

Hey, Julian! Can yoga help me fall asleep easier?

Sleep is such an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle. A solid sleep is essential for mood maintenance, plus science indicates that adults should have between 7-9 hours of sleep in order to greatly reduce their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Without a doubt, we need a good sleep every night but it’s becoming more common for people to have trouble falling asleep (and staying asleep) with excessive stimulation from digital devices, and tons going on in our lives.

One way to help ourselves sleep better is to incorporate yoga into our lives. The Harvard Medical School published a study that says 85% of people who practice yoga claim that it helps them reduce stress. Less stressed equals more relaxation and being more relaxed leads to a sounder night’s sleep. And, the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health found that over 55% of “yoga users” reported improved sleep.

A regular yoga practice will introduce a relaxing and restorative energy into your life before bed, and it’ll immediately improve your sleep positively.

Here’s the technical explanation for how yoga will improve your sleep:

yoga-for-sleep

Yoga is composed of 8 aspects known as “8 Limbs of Yoga”. Of the 8 Limbs of Yoga only one is the true movement known as “Asana”, the 3rd limb. You probably associate Asana with yoga because it is the aspect most commonly photographed and used to represent the entire practice of yoga.

The aspect of yoga that helps you sleep, however, is the 4th limb called Pranayama. Pranayama has everything to do with your breath and is key to slowing down your heart rate, cooling your nerves and creating zen. Also, Dhyana, the 7th limb of yoga, is more commonly known as meditation. You can pair Pranayama with Dhyana for the ultimate bedtime routine. I encourage my students and coaching clients to practice this pair of aspects for about five minutes before bed for major sleep benefits.

Close your eyes, let your mind go into a state of thoughtlessness, breathe unnaturally slow and deeply, and you’ll soon be sleeping.

More from Julian:
How we score major karma points with self-love
My best 4 tips for being mindful at work
Why we need mindfulness