Yoga, the cure for sleepless nights


yoga sig

Olivia Jones

Let’s face it, college is one of the busiest times of our lives. We try to balance school work with relationships, family, jobs, housework, pets and other things that just make us decent human beings, like helping someone else study or rushing to help a friend in the middle of the night. The door to sleepless nights, exponential jumps in anxiety, exhausted minds and bodies is definitely flung wide open. 

We prioritize every aspect of our lives and tend to put off sleep for papers, parties and peers. Think you’re surviving? Well, technically, you are. However, the more we put off sleep, the more we are feeding into an unhealthy habit. 

Sleep deprivation can lead to depression, obesity, mood swings, a weakened immune system, a decreased ability to concentrate and remember, slowed comprehension rates, and insulin sensitivity. 

Your body will tell you if it needs more sleep. If you’ve noticed an increase in appetite, weight gain or slowed metabolism, it may be a signal to revisit the idea of bedtime. 

If your brain is being deprived of the energy it usually gets from rest, it will look to food as another source. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, production will increase and cause all sorts of cravings. Leptin, the satiety hormone, is also affected, messing with your body’s ability to recognize when it’s actually full. Next time you think about binge eating cookies or your weights worth in fries, try taking a nap instead. 

Impulsive behavior and a slacking memory are also signs of sleep deprivation. Think about it, your energy levels are down, so subconsciously you’re not paying much attention to what’s going on in front of you. You are not actively participating, therefore no clear memory is attached to your experiences. This also leads to a veil over our judgment. We are more inclined to lash out or make regretful decisions because we aren’t thinking about the possible consequences.

Related: Find your true self through deep thinking 

Without enough sleep, cytokine production within the body drops. These proteins help to fight off illnesses and inflammation, so frequent viral infections and colds could definitely be a sign you need to make sleep a priority. 

Start tonight. Have a pillow party, snuggle up and get some rest. Put your phone in an entirely different room and don’t even think about watching television. Artificial lights can mess with your sleep patterns. 

This may sound strange, but rub some lavender essential oil on the bottoms of your feet. Whether it’s placebo or not, the feet are great pathways for absorption and lavender has a calming effect. You can also rub the oil into your palms then cup your mouth and nose. Close your eyes and imagine you’re drawing the scent directly into your brain. After about three minutes, you should feel more relaxed. 

Next, make your bed. Yes, actually unwrinkle the wad of sheets and blankets that probably haven’t been organized in days, and make your bed look presentable. Fluff your pillows, light some candles, grab the lavender oil you used on your feet and dilute it in water to spray on your pillows. 

On top of your freshly made bed, try these six yoga poses to lead you into a restful nights sleep. 

Begin in a seated, wide-legged forward fold. Don’t worry about your flexibility- your pillows are your friends. Stack however many you need to let your chest and forehead rest gently in the space in front of you. Take several deep breaths and focus on the space behind your eyelids. 

Transition into locust pose. Lie on your stomach, and keeping your legs straight with the big toes touching, aim to raise your upper and lower half as high as you can. Interlace your fingers behind you and open your chest. An open chest leads to deeper breaths. Hold this pose for as long as you’d like but remember, keep your eyes closed. We’re getting the body ready to sleep. 

Lie with a pillow or two under your lower back with your head resting on the bed and both legs straight up a wall. Let your arms rest on either side of you, palms facing up, and imagine you can feel the lactic acid draining out of your legs. 

Draw your knees to your chest, give yourself a little hug, and then guide your knees together to either side of you for a reclining spinal twist. Aim to keep both shoulder blades on the bed and turn your chin to face the opposite direction of your knees. Twists encourage cleansing and detoxification. Make sure you reach both sides. 

Move so that you are no longer near a wall and guide the body into reclining butterfly position. This time, place a pillow vertically under your head and upper back. Allow your lower half to make contact with the bed so your stomachis lengthened. Place the souls of your feet together and allow your knees to fall apart. Again, let your arms rest on either side of your body with the palms facing up. Imagine the the corners of your eyes and your knees are being drawn down into the bed. Focus on your breath and remember, stay here as long as you like. 

If you didn’t fall asleep in the last pose, it’s now time to move into savasana. Your place of peace, your piece of home. Gently draw the knees back together and extend your legs long to find corpse pose. Keep the pillow where it was or move it until you’re completely comfortable. Remember, arms long and palms up. Literally feel your body melt into your bed as your breath deepens. Feel your cheeks drawing away from your nose, your shoulders sinking away from your heart, your hips drowning into your bed.