A healthy bedtime routine is important for getting a good night’s sleep, but so many people struggle to establish a bedtime routine, or choose the right activities. Yoga can offer a calming, effective solution.
For years, I struggled to find the right bedtime routine. I failed to establish any kind of repetitive routine, falling asleep on the couch one night, watching Netflix in bed the next, or reading a book. It’s no surprise that I had trouble getting to sleep.
Maintaining a regular bedtime routine can help you sleep, signaling to your body that it’s time to wind down as you go through your regular bedtime motions. It’s especially helpful if you can practice relaxing activities, such as bedtime reading or yoga.
Your bedtime routine can include any relaxing activity you choose, but introducing yoga into a regular bedtime routine was the key for me. Practicing yoga before bed was the turning point in creating a healthy bedtime routine and getting to sleep easier every night.
While yoga any time of day helps me sleep better, I particularly enjoy doing yoga as part of my bedtime routine, especially in bed on a supportive mattress. These are some of my favorite yoga poses to do in bed:
Sitting half spinal twist: I use this pose to relieve tension in my spine and improve circulation. Sitting up, place your legs in front of you, bending your left leg to bring your heel next to your right hip. Then, move your right leg over your left knee. Put your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you. Twist at your waist, shoulders, and neck, looking over your right shoulder.
Legs up the wall pose: I enjoy this pose, as it helps me relieve pressure on my feet and improves circulation. Lay on your back and place your legs upward on your headboard. Balance with your arms resting out on your sides, pressing your shoulders into the mattress. I like to reflect on the positive moments of the day for a few minutes in this pose.
Happy baby pose: I like this pose for relieving stress and stretching my spine. Lying on your back, bend your knees into your belly. As you inhale hold the outsides of your feet with your hands, opening your knees and bringing them toward your armpits. Push through the heels and gently rock back and forth.
Cat-cow pose: This pose helps me stretch out my back while hinting at curling up for bed. Start out on all fours with your knees directly under your hips, then inhale as you drop your belly toward the mattress, lifting your chin and chest and looking up toward the ceiling. Moving into cat pose, as you exhale, pull your belly up to your spine and round your back, releasing your head toward the floor and your chin toward your chest.
Child’s pose: With this pose, I can feel calm while gently stretching my lower body. Start out kneeling, then exhale and bring your torso down between your thighs. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso as you push your shoulders toward the floor. Rest for a few minutes.
Corpse pose: This pose is a good choice for meditation. I prefer to get under the covers to prepare to drift off to sleep. Place your body in a neutral position, laying down with your legs comfortably open and your arms to the side. Practice progressive muscle relaxation, tensing and releasing each muscle group from your head to your toes.
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.