IS STRESS RUINING YOUR SLEEP?
A third of our day is or should be spent sleeping. Some eccentric geniuses have done without sleep, but for the average human the prescribed 8 hours (plus or minus 1 or 2 depending on who you’re talking to and your age) of sleep is necessary for health. Today lets just focus on our mental health.
Why? During deep REM sleep your adrenals are replenished.
That’s the kind of sleep you have when you fall asleep listening to “Losing my Religion”. You would have to be a 90’s kid to get that one. Anyways, corny jokes aside, in studies done way back in the 70’s they found the more stressed you are the less time would spend in REM sleep, and the less time you spend in this deep sleep, the more easily you would fatigue. We all know what happens when we’re fatigued, we’re easily agitated, our response to the challenges of life is often inappropriate, and we get stressed. And when we get stressed we spend less time in deep REM sleep. It’s a viscous cycle of stress and fatigue.
This is why regular yoga practice is so crucial.
When we take time out of our day to practice yoga, our stress level come down, and we have a more level head to meet the challenges of daily life. We’re not as easily agitated. We feel strong and more focused to meet the responsibilities of the day.
But what about times when life is just crazy, and even with a morning yoga or meditation practice, by the time you get home your nerves are fried and your mind is still going? The quality of your sleep will suffer.
So how, during these overly demanding times can we set a more healthy sleep pattern? Let’s say you had a super stressful day, and it’s going to be hard to clear your head when you hit the pillow. You can toss and turn for an hour, and then get funky sleep, or you can take 5-30 minutes to practice some yoga or mediation, and get a solid peaceful nights sleep.
Try the bedtime yoga video.
When I was particularly stressed out creating this site, teaching all my classes, preparing for the Costa Rica retreat, and making youtube videos, I felt like I had so many plates spinning that at night it would be hard to shift gears. Even though I would do a little meditation or yoga in the morning, by 9pm I was totally frazzled. I started doing a little sequence at night to help calm my nerves, with some mellow stretches to get me out of my head.
So when I put together the bedtime yoga video, I thought about all the places in our body that hold stress and feel tight and tweaked at the end of a long day. I didn’t wan’t people to have to work much in the poses, so the poses are all lying down or seated or supported. I did some mellow vinyasa work at the beginning to hook the mind into the body and breath right away. If your matching your inhalations and exhalations with your movement, its hard to think about anything else. It helps to keep you present. Savasana feels particularly sweet to me at the end of this sequence.
I began noticing that I fell asleep much quicker and easier. Before I started doing this sequence before bed, it would take me much longer to fall asleep, but after practicing this sequence, I would start falling asleep in savasana. I would have pull myself up off the floor to get into bed, and when my head hit the pillow I was out almost immediately. I would wake up feeling more refreshed from my sleep.
I hope this video can help carry you through some of the more stressful times in your life.