Relieves stress, tones muscles, improves posture… what can’t yoga do? In addition to all of these great benefits, recent research suggests that a regular yoga practice can actually improve sleep quality—an elusive aspect of life for most college students.
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 410 cancer survivors were randomly assigned into one of two groups: one group had standard care, and the other had standard care plus four weeks of yoga. At the end of the study, participants in the group doing yoga reported greater improvements in sleep quality, daytime function, sleep efficiency, and sleep duration than participants assigned to the control group.
Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing examined the effects of yoga on sleep quality in a group of nurses—half of the nurses did yoga after work twice a week, and the other half did not. After six months, the group of nurses who participated in yoga sessions after work reported better sleep quality and lower levels of work-related stress than nurses in the group who did not participate in yoga.
The takeaway from these two studies? Stressed-out college students who have difficulty sleeping may benefit from the practice of yoga. It doesn’t even have to be a full 90-minute vinyasa class for one to reap the benefits—even just a few minutes of yoga a day can have substantial effects on one’s quality of life.
A great way to start developing a daily practice is to begin with a 5-10 minute series of poses before bedtime. This infographic found on Pinterest provides an easy-to-follow bedtime flow that promotes dreamy, easy sleep. The best part? They can all be done from your bed.
Refer to the infographic for visuals of each pose if you are unfamiliar. The five poses are as follows:
- Staff Pose
- Knee-to-Chest Pose
- Forward-Bent Pose
- Marichi Pose
- Child’s Pose
The night before a big exam I tested out this flow to see if it actually helped me sleep. The verdict? I definitely felt much calmer and more relaxed before resting my head onto my pillow to get some sleep. I focused on my breath and letting go of all of the day’s thoughts while I spent time in each pose, which helped me decompress the day. One suggested substitution: instead of traditional staff pose, I subbed legs-up-the-wall pose, which I found to be a more restorative version of staff pose. If you’re looking for a more restful night’s sleep, then look no further than the yoga mat collecting dust in the closet of your dorm room. Roll it out, and relax!
By Julie Kameisha