August 05, 2019
The Importance of Sleep
Life without enough sleep is a constant struggle. Sleep plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing.
It is estimated that a third of the population will suffer from some degree of insomnia at some time.
The amount of sleep you get will greatly influence how you function whilst awake. Sleep deprivation is not to be under estimated, achieving a good sleep regularly is paramount.
Amongst many things a lack of sleep increases stress and tension, it influences decision making, work place performance, relationships and it can greatly increase your risk of injury.
Insufficient sleep has also been linked to high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many other serious conditions.
Sadly it is not only the adult population suffering from sleep deprivation this is also happening to children and teenagers.
Yoga techniques and Meditation practices can help you achieve a healthy nights sleep.
Quite simply stress and the inability to calm a restless mind will make falling asleep challenging. In today’s modern world many people spend a lot of time on high alert, some are in a constant state of stress. High numbers of the population spend lengthy periods using technology, working long hours, juggling work and family life, all of which can raise stress levels.
Some yoga techniques and postures can soothe the nervous system, relax the mind and reduce physical and emotional stress.
A gentle yoga or restorative yoga practice will help to reduce stress and alleviate tension, by relaxing and calming the body and mind. The slow breathing will help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which has a soothing influence on the body and mind, it is also known as the “rest and digest” response, it this response that lowers the heart rate and blood pressure allowing for deep relaxation and long term healing to occur.
Try practicing soothing postures such as balasana (pose of the child), setu bandhasana (half bridge), jathara parivartanasana (belly revolved pose or inclined spinal twist), viparita Karani (legs up the wall or fountain of youth pose), supta baddha konasana (inclined bound angel) and savasana (the corpse)
Pranayamas also play a vital role when it comes to switching off the “fight or flight” response and turning on the more soothing, calming and nurturing “rest and digest” response. Just by breathing slowly the “rest and digest” response is activated.
Ancient and modern yogis believe that pranic energy (vital life force) travels around the body through energy zones known as Nadis. Two of these Nadis travel between muladhara (the root chakra) at the base of the spine and pass through each chakra or energy centre and finish in opposite nostrils.
Pingala Nadi runs between the Muladhara (the root chakra) and the right nostril and Ida Nadi runs between Muladhara and the left nostril. They each deal with opposing forces for example Pingala is the energy of the sun (yang) it is warming and motivating and Ida is the moon energy (yin), it is cooling and calming.
Pingala Nadi – Stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous System or the fight or flight response (which allows us to survive at any cost). It also connects to the left side of the brain which deals with practical day to day activities.
Ida Nadi – Stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, or rest and digest, this is the bodies preferred state for healing, bringing the ability to deeply relax. It also connects to the right side of the brain, which mainly deals with expression and creativity.
Chandra means moon, this pranayama will help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Sit comfortably with a straight spine, close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe slowly through your left nostril. Continue with this technique for as long as is required.
Meditation also has a very positive impact on sleep.
Through meditation it is possible to considerably lower stress levels. Here’s a little science, studies have revealed that meditators can reduce the activity of the beta brain waves (these are present during activity and whilst awake) and increase the delta and theta brain waves which help to create a deep state of mental calmness so that the brain is able to relax and produce melatonin (the hormone required to help us fall asleep) making sleep possible.
The calming and more pleasurable brainwaves experienced through meditation directly cancel out the active and stimulating brainwaves that add to insomnia, helping you to achieve a good night’s sleep every night.
Why Sleep is so important?
Sleep helps your brain work properly, sleep improves learning, sleep also helps you pay attention, sleep helps you make good choices, sleep encourages creativity, Sleep helps you control your emotions, Sleep could help prevent mood swings, anger and depression, sleep is when your body heals and recharges, sleep is required for healthy growth and development, sleep helps maintain a healthy immune system, all in all a healthy sleep pattern could help keep you safe, healthy and full of vitality.
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