You might go to the gym regularly and eat well to the last mouthful but you may still not be healthy. The latest research shows that more and more people are deprived of an essential component of good health. And that is sound sleep. While a couple of years ago sleep related problems were snoring and talking in your sleep, the list is now endless. Sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, insomnia, sleepwalking, narcolepsy, irregular sleep patterns, and the list goes on.
If left untreated, these disorders can lead to other, more debilitating conditions such as memory loss, depression, mood swings, trouble in concentrating, high blood pressure, diabetes, low libido, heart disease, low metabolism, obesity, low immunity etc.
If you have trouble falling asleep or have poor quality sleep then it will help to stretch your body before you hit the sack. Below are a few gentle stretches which will help in inducing a deep, restful slumber. The beauty of all these poses is that you can do them on your bed, right before you sleep.
Agnistambhasana (Fire log Pose)
This pose stretches your lower body and relaxes the spine. During the day your spine takes a lot of weight and stress, and it is necessary to actively straighten and lengthen it at the end of the day. A tight or stiff spine will make you restless. Over time it may lead to chronic backache as well. The Agnistambhasana is a simple pose which gives a deep stretch to the spine.
Janusirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
Many of us feel a sense of restlessness as soon as we lie down to sleep. You might experience exhaustion the entire day, yet when you lie down sleep eludes you. The Janusirsasana is a great pose because it stretches the posterior of the body and relieves any physical and mental stress you may have. This pose is known to alleviate minor depression and anxiety as well.
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Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Often we try to sleep but our thoughts are wild. If we could only stop thinking, we could sleep. The Paschimottanasana helps in quieting the mind and thoughts. Along with this, its a deep stretch for your shoulders and helps in relieving stress from your body. Stay in this pose for a couple of minutes to gain the full benefits of the asana.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
This is one of the easiest and most relaxing poses. Rest your legs against the wall, and allow your tired muscles to rejuvenate. Along with increasing your blood circulation and decreasing the swelling of tired legs, this pose also relieves lower back pain.
A few minutes of conscious breathing is the perfect way to end the day. With every breath, you make fresh oxygen available to your system. Fresh oxygen means a clearer mind, balanced blood pressure, release of toxins from the body, relief from aches and pains etc. This is also a chance for you to achieve clarity and peace of mind. Practice 10 rounds of slow and deep breathing while sitting in any comfortable meditative asana.
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Avoid working out close to your bedtime as the release in happy hormones will excite your mind and body, and interfere with your sleep. Also, treat your sleep time as sacred and dont allow phones, iPads, loud music, disturbing reads to infringe upon this time. Good health is about balance, and sleep is an integral part of a balanced life.