fitness

The Need for Sleep and How to Get Some Zzz's

By Naomi Zelin

How many times have you heard yourself say, “I just wish I had more hours in the day to…?” Modern days are filled with a high demand of stress between work, family and fun, and we are stretched thin for time. Most of us modify our lives to accommodate these busy schedules by skipping out on vital sleep time, or are in a place where life has caused too much anxiety to the point where you simply cannot get yourself to sleep.

While one sleepless night doesn't cause too much harm, lack of sleep on an ongoing basis can adversely affect you in many ways. The following are some ways lack of sleep can negatively impact everyday life.

Impairs Memory

While you are sleeping, you are creating new pathways and integrating new learned information in your brain. When sleep is disturbed, your ability to form memories and recall facts is impaired. You might also experience having trouble making decisions and solving problems.

Creates Emotional Instability

We've all had those days when we frustrate easily because we are tired. Lack of sleep has been linked to difficulty controlling emotions, behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviors.

Inflammation

Individuals with poor sleep patterns tend to experience an increase of inflammation. Inflammation is associated with a lot of other diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stoke, diabetes, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease and autoimmune disorders. While we can’t say for sure what causes inflammation, we know that all the-se diseases have a tendency to result from disordered sleep patterns.

Difficulty Maintaining Healthy Weight

A good night’s rest helps maintain a healthy balance of hormones, in the body there are a number of hormones that create the feelings of being hungry or full. When you are sleep deprived, the hormones in your body that make you feel hungry go hay-wire and cause you to over eat and not feel satiated. Additionally, a published article by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) states that “sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) levels. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.”

Reduces Stress

When our sleep is interrupted or we simply cannot get to sleep, our stress hormones increase, which impacts our blood pressure. When our blood pressure in-creases, the chances for high cholesterol also increase. In addition, high levels of stress impact mood, frustration tolerance and decision making. However, when we are well rested, our workload seems more manageable, our relationships with family and friends improve, and we handle the challenges of life more gracefully.

If you can identify with any of the above, chances are your sleep is being interrupted and impacting your health. If you are like me, then you know that most aliments can be treated holistically or with just a few behavioral adjustments! If you are finding it hard to get to sleep and even stay asleep, try to incorporate some of these yoga poses into your night routine before bed. The following postures are known to help insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. If you would like more information about yoga poses for sleep regulation, here are a few good resources:

Yoga Sequence to Help Get You to Sleep and Stay Asleep

Genexa Health: Seated Yoga Pose

Sit for 5 minutes in any comfortable cross legged posture. If sitting on the ground is too hard use a chair. Take deep breaths and try to exhale longer than you inhale.

Genexa Health: Support Child's Pose

Supported Child’s Pose: Use a bolster underneath your torso and a rolled-up blanket behind your knees. Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes.

Genexa Health: Supported Downward Dog

From supported child’s pose, rest in a supported down dog with your head on a bolster for 1-3 minutes.

Genexa Health: Supported Forward Fold

Supported Forward Fold: You may use as many bolsters as your mobility allows. If you are tight in the hamstrings and lower back, please sit on your blanket as you do this posture. Hold for 3 minutes.

Genexa Health: Supine Twist

Supine Twist: After your deep forward bend roll yourself all the way onto your spine. Hug the knees into your chest and make small circles with the legs. After taking a few circles in each direction, drop your knees over to the left-hand side for 5 minutes, then repeat on the right side.

Genexa Health: Legs Up Wall Pose

Saving the best for last, Legs up the Wall Pose: Place a bolster under your hips and extend your legs up the wall. If you feel like your neck is compromised in any way, please place your blanket under your head. Stay in this posture for 5-10 minutes. 

After you've completed this sequence, enjoy a deep and restful sleep!

 


Combining her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with her love of natural healing, Naomi Zelin became a certified yoga teacher in 2013. She’s participated in several additional training seminars in India, Thailand, Nepal and Indonesia. Catch one of her incredible classes all over Los Angeles!

Related Articles