Yoga and a good night’s sleep

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Whether you suffer from a sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or just long for more restful sleep, sleep experts say that exercise can help you get your Zs.

While the National Sleep Foundation recommends that all adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than one third of U.S. adults report sleeping less than seven hours per night. According to the CDC, poor sleep has been linked to the onset of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, and studies show that even small amounts of exercise can help you get a better night’s rest.

Sleep experts recommend that you avoid vigorous activity in the few hours before you go to bed, but gentle yoga can be a relaxing way to prepare your mind and body for sleep and may be an effective part of treatment for sleep disorders.

Here are five stretches to try before bedtime. Hold each for around three minutes or whatever is comfortable:

  • Put your legs up an empty wall, with your buttocks as close to the wall as is comfortable. Rest your arms by your side, palms up, and breathe deeply, eyes closed.
  • Sit cross-legged on the floor (Sukhasana pose). Put your left hand on your right knee and your left hand slightly behind you. Twist gently to the right, looking over your right shoulder. Repeat on your other side.
  • Lie down on your back. Put the bottoms of your feet together, letting your knees fall out to each side, opening up your hip muscles and forming a diamond. Breathe and relax into the stretch.
  • Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Rock back and forth gently, massaging your lower back and feeling the stretch in your hips.
  • Sit on your heels and wrap your body around your knees, pointing your toes/feet backward (child’s pose). Allow your arms to fall by your side, palms up, or stretch them forward, letting your forehead rest on the floor. Feel the stretch through your lower back and hips.

Find more tips for healthy sleep habits here: http://sleepfoundation.org/