Counting sheep or mouthing numbers backwards from 100 doesn’t really work if you are trying to fall asleep faster.
But there are lot of effective ways you can beat insomnia. Most of them rely on putting your mind and body in a relaxed state.
Taking a warm bath, with some lavender essential oil if possible, helps. A walk in the evening does wonders for stress. Chamomile tea works for some people too. Sex before sleeping relaxes the mind and body.
Something else you should try is yoga.
How Yoga helps you sleep
Science has proven many of the benefits often attributed to yoga including stress management, improved relaxation, reduced anxiety, pain treatment (especially back pain) and weight loss.
Most of the benefits of yoga generally help you sleep better. Even a 10-minute session before bed is enough to help your body and mind relax.
5 Yoga poses for sleep
You don’t have to go to a studio to do enjoy the sleep benefits of yoga. You can do some simple moves right by your bedside.
These poses focus mostly on getting you into a relaxed state. If you can combine them with some meditation or sounds for sleep, even better.
1. Child’s pose
This is a simple restful pose that encourages you to breathe deeper, which helps you relax and lowers stress levels.
Start by sitting on your heels on the floor. You can place a thick blanket under you if your knees hurt.
Check that your big toes are touching then widen your knees to about the same width as your hips.
Lower your upper body and move your hips back towards your heels. Your torso should come to rest between your thighs.
Touch your forehead to the ground and stretch your arms straight in front of you with only the fingertips touching the ground.
Exhale and inhale deeply as you spend 1-3 minutes in this position.
2. Legs up the wall
Also known as Viparita Karani, this pose is perfect for a bedtime ritual. It’s simple and doesn’t require you to over-stretch any part of your body.
It’s also great for frequent travellers. You can do it in a hotel room or even when out camping using the side of the tent as support.
This pose increases blood flow, helps with swollen feet (common at the end of the day) and puts your body in a motionless state that is surprisingly relaxing.
To achieve the pose, lift your legs straight against the wall while pushing your hips as close to the wall as you can.
Some people find it better to place a blanket under their hips.
Hold the pose for a couple of minutes with your arms stretched straight on your sides.
3. Happy Baby
You can move directly from the Viparita Karani pose to Ananda Balasana or Happy Baby.
Let your hips lower back to the floor then bend your knees into your belly. Your thighs should lie parallel against your torso and form a right angle with your legs.
Try to bring your ankle directly over your knees to get a near-perfect right angle.
Finally, hold your feet with your arms and stay in pose for 1-3 minutes.
This pose is also great for swollen feet and can help calm down painful hamstrings.
4. Downward-facing dog
If hours sitting on a desk have left your back sore and your neck aching, this is a great pose.
It gently stretches your entire body from arms to legs.
Start the pose by getting on all fours. Use a thick blanket to cushion your knees if you need to.
Set your knees directly under the hips and your arms slightly stretched beyond your shoulders. Turn your palms slightly outwards.
Slowly lift your knees up from the floor as you push your pelvis upwards. Push your thighs back and straighten your knees (but don’t lock them).
Lower your head such that it aligns with your back and you are looking at your legs.
Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes.
5. Corpse pose
The corpse pose or Savasana is perfect for ending a yoga session. It’s more of a meditation than stretching pose.
You simply lie on your back and let your arms rest at a 45-degree angle on your side. Keep your legs slightly wide open.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few minutes as you try to relax as much as you can.