I come bearing great news: long-term practice of Yoga exercises is associated with less sleep disturbances and higher quality of sleep. As we get older, our ability to sleep through the night might slowly wither. Sleep disturbances and decline in physical functionality are common conditions associated with aging. Why should we be concerned you ask?
S L E E P is one of the most neglected yet most important activities we perform daily. It helps your brain function optimally. While we sleep, our brains are working hard at preparing itself for the following day – forging new pathways to aid you in learning and remembering new information. Moreover, a lack of sleep (anything short of 8 hours) alters activity in some parts of the brain. In fact, our cognition at a time of sleep deficiency is downwards that of drunkenness – I’m not joking. Sleep deficiency is extremely deadly, yet many of us willingly sacrifice our slumber to fit more into our days – when we really shouldn’t. Sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of our brains. A sleep deficient individual may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and behavior, and coping with change, and may also be more prone to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviors.
Sufficient sleep maintains a healthy balance of the hormones within our bodies. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times helps you function well during the day. When we don’t sleep enough, we are less productive during the day, we have slower reaction times, and make more mistakes. Most of us might respond to this fact with “I should be fine with 7 hours of sleep, I’m only losing 1 hour.” I’m sorry to inform you, your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two with a loss of just 1 hour of sleep.
Findings suggest that on top of better overall sleep quality, older adults practicing Yoga also enjoy less episodes of disturbed sleep, taking less time to fall asleep, less day time dysfunction, less use of sleep medications, and most importantly, feeling more rested and energetic in the morning.
A possible reason for this is that Yoga exercise involves stretching and relaxing of muscles which causes significant physical and mental exertion, resulting in less sleep latency, more deep sleep, less sleep disturbances, and better sleep efficiency. The average duration of Yoga practices of the research participants were 5.26 years, which means it’s safe to suggest that benefits of Yoga were retained even after long-term Yoga practice.
Knowing all of this, besides making sure we are getting our 8 hours every night, I’m glad to know that we are also on the right track with Yoga 😉