5 Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep

Yoga poses before bed can enhance the quality of sleep and promote relaxation. The legs up the wall pose helps draw blood away from the lower extremities, while child's pose stimulates the pituitary gland. The supine twist and forward fold release tension, and the corpse pose prepares the mind for sleep.

We all know about the stress-busting benefits of yoga—and plenty of studies prove it. If morning yoga can help you mellow out for the day ahead, imagine what a few evening stretches can do before you go to sleep.

“Yoga is an ideal way to welcome relaxation, resulting in better, more restful sleep,” says Jessica Fuller, Founder and CEO of New York’s The Hot Yoga Spot. “People who practice yoga regularly are often better equipped to deal with stress when it arises and to remain calm in a variety of situations.” This, coupled with yoga’s ability to reduce pain and tension in the body, makes it a great nighttime activity for anyone who wants to enhance the quality of their sleep, Fuller says.

To improve your shut-eye, try one or all of these moves before your head hits the pillow.

The best yoga poses for sleep

“A consistent yoga practice can transform and enhance your sleep as well as the quality of your life,” Fuller says. “Doing yoga poses at home before bed is a great place to start, and eventually trying regular weekly classes at a studio can help even more.” (Here are the best Ayurvedic sleep remedies, including yoga, to try if you have trouble snoozing.)

Legs up the wall

This is a tried-and-true yoga pose for those who deal with anxiety and panic attacks, and it can also calm your nervous system before you go to sleep. “Legs up the wall is a passive pose that promotes relaxation and allows someone to mentally prepare their mind for deep sleep,” says Fuller. “Gravity helps draw blood away from your lower extremities, which benefits your circulatory system.”

How to do the yoga pose:

  • Lie on your back with your bottom near a wall or as close as you can comfortably get.
  • Slide your legs up the wall so that your lower half is elevated and resting against the wall.
  • Stay in this pose for as long as you like, and slowly start to slide yourself closer and closer to the wall as you get more comfortable and flexible in the posture.
  • Place a small pillow or yoga block under your sacrum if you’d like to further elevate your lower body.

Child’s pose

Yoga classes return to this pose at the end of a series because it promotes tranquility and rest, and it can do the same for you before bed. “Child’s pose is a safe and relaxed position,” Fuller explains. “When your body is tucked between your legs, there’s a feeling of security since your core is nestled safely away.” When your forehead is resting against the floor in child’s pose, Fuller suggests rocking it side to side to create a massaging effect that can stimulate your pituitary gland. “The pituitary gland controls melatonin, which can impact the body’s sleep cycle,” she says.

How to do the yoga pose:

  • Begin by kneeling on the floor with your big toes touching and your knees wide apart.
  • Place your hands on the floor and start to walk them out away from your body as you slowly lower your torso toward the ground between your thighs.
  • Let your palms rest heavy on the ground and either stay still in this pose or slowly rock your head side to side from temple to temple.

Supine twist

A supine twist is a satisfying way to stretch your muscles and experience relaxation in the process. “Gentle twists alleviate tension throughout the spine and can be useful to aid in digestion,” Fuller notes. “Both of these are important features in releasing tension from that day and prepare for the body to be more relaxed.”

How to do the yoga pose:

  • Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest.
  • Gently let both of your legs land on one side of your body and then let your gaze and head drift off to the other side if this is comfortable for your neck.
  • Deepen the twist if you’d like by placing your hand on the outside of your opposite leg to gently help your legs rest heavier on the floor.

Forward fold

As part of yoga’s standard Sun Salutation series of moves, a forward fold is another peace-promoting pose you can do before bed. “Forward folds are excellent poses to promote sleep because they stimulate the kidneys and liver,” says Fuller. “This, in turn, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which releases tension and helps the body to fall asleep. Fuller adds that forward folds can help relieve headaches and back pain, easing insomnia in the process.

How to do the yoga pose:

  • Stand with your feet at least hip-width apart or wider.
  • Slowly lower your upper body toward the ground so you come to rest your upper half on top of your legs. You can bend your legs as much as you need to rest comfortably in this position.
  • Place your hands on the ground or hold on to opposite elbow creases to create a frame around your head.
  • Allow your neck to rest completely so your head is heavy and there is no added tension in your upper body.
  • You can choose to remain still or slowly rock side to side.

Corpse pose

Fuller says that the corpse pose is the final pose you should do before you get into bed—or you can even do it after you’re in bed. “This pose focuses on absolute stillness and creates a meditative state, which is perfect to mentally prepare yourself to drift off to sleep,” she says. “In stillness, you can quiet the mind, bring all awareness to your breath, and start to let go of anything you carried around with you during the day.”

How to do the yoga pose:

  • Lie on your back in whatever way promotes the most physical relaxation and comfort.
  • Generally, your feet will fall open and your toes will point out.
  • Your arms should rest at your side a few inches from the body and your palms should face down, which promotes a grounding effect and closes off your energy for the day.
  • Let your eyes close and bring your awareness simply to your breath as you inhale and exhale.

For more moves that can help you sleep, check out our guide to the best stretches to do before bed.

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