How can Yoga Battle Stress and Insomnia yet Boost Your Heart Rate Variability?

Sleep deprivation is a global problem, with a third of all people in countries like the UK and the US failing to get their recommended number of hours of sleep a night. Italians, clocking in an average of 6:54 hours in bed come just under the recommended amount as well. If you practice yoga for stress relief, then you probably already notice how it can help with sleep as well. Indeed, studies showing that it can form part of a powerful pro-sleep strategy. If you would like to experience the magic of yoga for the first time, a bootcamp or retreat is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in this millenary way of life. In addition to feeling calmer and more ‘in the moment’ you may notice one fantastic benefit – a noticeable improvement in your sleep quality!

Yoga, Sleep, and Stress

A survey by the NIH in the United States found that over 55% of yoga practitioners report improved sleep, and over 85% report reduced stress from this ancient practice. Another study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, meanwhile, found that daily yoga can help people achieve better sleep and boost their overall quality of life. Doctors often recommend yoga because it is a natural, cost-effective practice that people of all ages and fitness levels can take up. Whether you are a child or older adult, yoga can help increase the quality of mindfulness, which is especially useful at bedtime – when worrisome thoughts can keep you awake.

Yoga and Higher Heart Rate Variability at Bedtime

Heart Rate Variability (HRT) is an important indication of heart health. Having a high rate variability essentially shows that you are able to adapt to changes and to cope with triggers such as anxiety and stress. A study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that yoga  increases heart rate variability, thus reducing anxiety and stress and making it easier to relax. Yet another study found that just listening to yoga music at bedtime has a similar effect. Yoga music is meditative and you can use it to practice a few relaxing postures before bedtime. If you sleep alongside a partner, invite them to join you for poses like the child’s pose, the standing forward bend, or the corpse pose, while you listen to music. Your sleep quality will improve if both of you sleep at the same time, thus reducing frequent waking – which can occur when one partner stays up much later than another.

Yoga vs Insomnia

A study by researchers at the Group Health Research Institute found that taking yoga classes for 12 weeks can help reduce insomnia in women undergoing menopause. The researchers noted that it is important for women to find natural ways to counter some of the effects of menopause – including insomnia – because good sleep is so important for their overall health. The study showed that yoga not only improved sleeplessness, but is also linked to better sleep quality and less depression.

We have mentioned just a few studies on yoga and sleep. Since it is an activity that can be adapted to all levels, it can definitely form part of a strategy to battle insomnia and poor sleep quality. Even if you are older, classes such as chair yoga will ensure you have extra stability, while benefiting completely from the stress busting effects of a practice that is well loved by millions of people across the globe.