How are you sleeping lately According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of adults in the United States said they weren’t getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep a night – and that was in the past.
Sleep experts now say that heightened stress and anxiety related to the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in a “perfect storm of sleep problems” – known as the “coronasomnia” – that has an immediate impact on our physical and mental health. It is also linked to chronic diseases and conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and emotional distress.
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So how can we improve our ability to drift into dreamland and stay there continuously all night? And how can yoga help?
Max Strom, yoga teacher, international speaker, and author of A Life Worth Breathing and There is No App for Happiness, recently spoke at the Yoga Journal Summit, Restore Your Sleep, about how to overcome breakups, loneliness, and hectic lifestyles that disrupt our sleep. Here YJ asks him for advice on how to deal with three common roadblocks to rest.
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(Max a speaker at our summit, Restore Your Sleep: Reclaim Deep Rest & Wake Up Energized, along with Dr. Gail Parker, Jillian Pransky, Lisa Sanfilippo and Pamela Stokes Eggleston. Watch now!)
Yoga Journal: Can you share an exercise when we’re wide awake in bed and just can’t drift off?
Max current: “A simple, ancient breathing exercise that I use and teach is great for insomnia caused by stress. It’s the 4-7-8 breathing pattern. Lie in your bed in the dark and fall asleep. Breathe then to number one four, hold your breath to seven, and exhale to 8. I recommend doing this for two minutes, but you can always do it longer.
- Before holding your breath, inflate your lungs 100%.
- Always use the same metric, the same numbers. If it’s too slow or too fast for you, just speed up or slow down your count, but always use 4-7-8.
- If you know how to use ujjayi (ocean) to regulate your breath, do it through your nose or mouth. If you don’t know how to regulate your breath, just breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth while pursing your lips so the air can slowly be released with a hissing sound. “
YJ: What can we do if we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep?
Max: “What you shouldn’t do is just as important as the steps you can take to get back to sleep. Do not allow yourself to work in your head. Don’t think about your job, your problems or anything like that. Instead, get out of bed and sit in a chair next to the bed in the dark. Then focus in your head on a relaxing and wonderful memory. One of the best times of your life. Not an exciting and exciting one, but a calm and loving one in which you felt safe and seen and full-hearted. When you feel like you can go back to sleep, go back to bed. (In no case should you look at your phone, laptop, or television.) “
YJ: It can seem impossible to relax when our mind is racing to Zoom after a long day. What is the solution?
Max: “People today have a habit of being extremely overworked. We think this is normal, but it’s totally out of whack. The answer to this problem usually means changing the way you live. In other words, quit your job at five AM or 6 PM and then turn off all equipment. You need to train your mind to relax again. How well you sleep at night depends on how well you live during the day. It’s kind of a litmus test. Without a good night’s sleep, ours Health and our psychology are damaged. And that means all of our relationships are damaged too. Sleep should be treated as sacred, something we must invest in. But to do this, we must take good care of our nervous system during the day. “”
Would you like to learn Max’s movement and breathing exercises to get deep rest again? Now start the sleep summit of the Yoga Journal.