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7 Tips for Putting Insomnia to Rest for Good!

Nearly one-third of Americans report having difficulty falling or staying asleep. Similarly, a 2017 survey conducted by Sleep Therapeutics says that around 42% of Canadians have also experienced difficulty sleeping or staying asleep at least once a week over the past month.* Poor sleep quality has more consequences than feeling tired. Insufficient rest has been linked to weight gain, depression, a decline in concentration, and weakened immunity—5 great reasons to start looking for solutions! In this blog, I’ll share two critical suggestions and seven tips that will help you achieve the quality rest you need.

Woman can't sleep at night.
Yoga for Insomnia

Insufficient rest has been linked to weight gain, depression, a decline in concentration, and weakened immunity.

Do Your Thoughts Stink?

Stinking Thinking Causes Stress and Anxiety

A mind that “just won’t stop” is the most common cause of insomnia. We have all, at some point or another, endured a sleepless night or two thanks to an untamed mind. We ruminate over family affairs, about conversations had a moment ago or eight years ago; we replay scenarios in our head, imagining different versions or creating more palatable outcomes. Anticipation of the future, whether an interview in the morning or retirement in a decade, keeps us awake. We’ve all fallen prey to this overactive mind. That in itself is not the problem. We worry about finances. Note: whether you are independently wealthy or barely scrape by is not what determines financial stress. Money in the bank won't necessarily bring freedom from the fear of scarcity.

The problem is when the ruminating, anticipating, and fretting won't stop. One stress is resolved and another crops up. You get a clean bill of health and the car breaks down. You pay off your VISA just as your son fails chemistry. Stress is like playing Whack-a-Mole with your brain! If you are prone to worrying, there will always be something to worry about.

Yoga is the Ultimate Antidote

Luckily, I’ve got the solution to the "whack-a-mole mind," because this is where yoga shines. Traditionally speaking, this is the true meaning of yoga: slowing down our racing thoughts so that we can experience our naturally worry-free state of being.

The mind loves stimulation and is prone to overactivity. The yogic antidote is to apply the primary tools of asana practice and mindful breathing. A meditative approach to these skills will discipline the mind, first, to grudgingly obey/ accept and, eventually, to luxuriate in unstirred stillness. This meditative approach relaxes the body, soothes the heart, and provides the brain with an outlet for thoughts, fears, and anxieties. Consistent yoga helps regulate sleep cycles by invoking the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging melatonin production, and reducing cortisol levels.

Stress is like playing Whack-a-Mole with your brain!

Establish a Bedtime Routine

A small amount of stretching (asana) and mindful breathing (pranayama) can support slumber, and small changes in perspective or circumstance can help maximize/optimize maximize the benefits.

These two suggestions may be all you need to turn Sleepless in Canada around:

1. Incorporate light stretching and deep breathing into your day as a preventative measure and mindful response to overthinking. This will reduce the stress that can accumulate throughout the day, so you’re not faced with a surplus of issues when it’s finally time to shut down. The combination of stretching and belly breathing is an unparalleled natural antidote. Note: This doesn’t mean you have to make more time to squeeze in a class. It doesn’t have t a grand gesture or ritual affair. Breathe deeply while doing the dishes, talking with a colleague, or waiting in line. Stretch at your desk, on the bus, or on the couch while watching TV. Bring what you've learned from yoga classes into your daily life.

2. When you have 45-90 minutes to commit to self-care, dedicate a space exclusively to that purpose for an evening routine. If silence is a hot commodity in your home, consider noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs. These solve the issue immediately! Additionally, I've listed seven easy ways to enhance your self-care space.

7 Steps to Creating a Zen Den:

  • Crack a window to let in some fresh air.

  • Avoid bright lights and use night lights, dimmers, Himalayan salt lamps, or candles instead.

  • Add houseplants or fresh flowers for oxygen, natural fragrance, and beauty.

  • Make your bed (ideally first thing!) and add soft textures, such as flannel sheets, cozy blankets, and fluffy pillows.

  • De-clutter your space, tidy up loose papers, and minimize electronic distractions by shutting down the cell phone, computer, and TV.

  • Take a hot shower or bath, diffuse essential oils, or light scented candles for an ambient vibe.

  • If you do yoga in your bedroom, consider putting your mat beside the bed so that you can transition to restorative slumber.

  • Ask family or housemates if they can respect your need for downtime and leave you uninterrupted for a short time.

Woman finishes yoga and is able to sleep!
Post-Yoga Rest!

Integrating just one or two of these seven tips into your evening routine will help pave the way to a good night’s sleep. If you want to try online classes specifically designed to help you sleep, try “G’ Nite Yoga,” which is LIVE online on Mondays (and class replays are always available).

Create the habits you need today to put insomnia to rest for tomorrow.

See you on the mat!


*[Source: Sleep Therapeutics].


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