Two of my favorite topics in one post – sleep and yoga! This week, I am thrilled to host the Tuck Sleep Foundation, a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Please note that Tuck is a non-commercial entity that has no affiliate relationships with any of the products/companies reviewed on the site as to remain completely unbiased (nor do I have any affiliate relationships with any of the produces/companies reviewed on the site).
Morning yoga gets your heart rate up, stretches stiff morning muscles, and prepares both mind and body for the day. Making yoga part of your morning routine can boost your mood, clear your mind, and energize you. However, you don’t want sacrifice getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep. The good news is, you can do both if you plan appropriately.
You Need Sleep
It’s easy to tell yourself you’ll simply wake up 30-45 minutes earlier to add in yoga but cutting back on your sleep can have serious consequences. Lack of sleep can cause:
Reduced job performance
Eating more, especially high-fat foods
Lack of sleep also puts you at higher risk for more serious problems such as:
High blood pressure
Even losing as little as 1.5 hours can have a dramatic impact on your life. Before you jump into a morning yoga routine, it’s best to have a plan in place to be sure you’re getting the rest you need.
Ways to Get Sleep and Start Early-Morning Yoga
Early morning yoga doesn’t have to be vigorous to get you going in the morning. Also keep in mind that there are many yoga poses you can do from the comfort of your own bed, making it easier to still get the sleep hours you need.
Start Yoga In or Next to Your Bed
There are many yoga poses that are gentle and physically quiet enough to do in bed. You can work out tight muscles and wake your body slowly while still lying down. However, if you sleep with a partner and have a bouncy mattress, consider setting up your mat next to your bed the night before. That way you can roll out of bed into a few poses without interrupting anyone else’s sleep.
Go to Bed Earlier
This one seems like a no-brainer, but many people overlook this simple solution. If you want 45 minutes for morning yoga, go to bed 45 minutes earlier in the evening. That may mean giving up an evening habit like watching television, but if you truly want the health benefits of sleep and yoga, it will be worth it. Going to be earlier means making bedtime a priority. Binge watching TV shows on streaming services keeps many people up long past their bedtime. But, if you set the goal ahead of time, it’s easier to shut everything down when you need to.
Establish a Healthy Bedtime Routine
Going to bed a little early is easier if you have a healthy bedtime routine in place. Good sleep hygiene starts with a consistent bedtime that you adhere to every day of the week. As you stick to your routine, your body will start getting sleepy at the same time every day. A healthy routine should include behaviors that help your body relax and shut down for the day. Reading a book (not on an e-reader or other electronic devices), taking a warm bath, or meditation are all great ways to calm the mind and body for sleep.
Avoid Activities and Foods that Interfere with Sleep
Activities like strenuous exercise too close to bedtime. The endorphins released and the increase in body temperature can make it difficult to settle down. The light from screens of any kind–television, e-reader, smartphone, laptop–can interfere with your circadian rhythms. Shut off those bright screens at least an hour before bed. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She specializes in sleep’s role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat.