woman practicing yoga

Yoga Nidra for Better Sleep

Learn what Yoga Nidra is and how it’s beneficial for improving sleep quality, plus five simple tips for adding it to your nightly routine with ease.

Looking for a new way to improve your sleep quality? If so, yoga nidra may be the next best thing. Yoga nidra, also known as "yogic sleep," is a form of meditation that promotes deep relaxation. What’s more, studies have shown that it can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression—all of which can contribute to poor sleep.  

In this post, we’re exploring what Yoga Nidra is, how it’s beneficial for improving sleep quality, plus a few easy ways that you can weave it into your nightly routine. 

woman practicing yoga nidra

What is Yoga Nidra? 

Simply put, yoga nidra is a form of guided meditation that puts the body into a state of deep relaxation. Similar to certain yin or restorative yoga poses, it involves lying down beneath your favorite cozy blanket and listening to a series of verbal instructions that help you focus on your breath and relax your muscles. 

The overall goal of yoga nidra is to reach a state of consciousness that falls between waking and sleeping (known as the theta stage of sleep), where the mind is still active but the body is completely relaxed. In its essence, it’s a passive form of yoga meant to aid in the restoration of the mind and body. 

Benefits of Yoga Nidra for Sleep 

Yoga nidra has been shown to offer a number of incredible benefits for sleep, including: 

Reduced Stress and Anxiety 

Stress and anxiety are common causes of sleep problems. Because yoga nidra is so heavily focused on relaxing the body completely, establishing a regular yoga nidra practice can help calm the mind, as well. Overall, this can help reduce the impact of daily stressors, making it easier to fall asleep at night. 

Regulation of the Nervous System 

Yoga nidra activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. When practiced over time, yoga nidra can help improve sleep quality and duration due to the unique influence it has over the parasympathetic response in the brain. 

Improved Mental Clarity 

Similar to the way that regular naps benefit you by giving you a boost of energy that positively impacts your mental focus and clarity, practicing yoga nidra can also improve your focus and concentration. In turn, this can lead to a greater sense of mental clarity during the day and better sleep at night. 

Enhanced Creativity 

Have you ever gone to bed at night fixated on a problem, question, or creative project you've been struggling with, only to wake up with an answer on how to move forward? Yoga nidra works similarly and, by practicing it regularly, it can help unlock your subconscious mind, leading to greater creativity and problem-solving ability overall. 

how to practice yoga nidra - woman relaxing on bed

How to Practice Yoga Nidra for Better Sleep 

To begin practicing yoga nidra for better sleep, experts often recommend following these simple steps: 

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can lie down without any distractions. Grab a pillow and a comfortable blanket, if you’d like; whatever helps make you as comfortable as possible is best.
  1. Set an intention for your practice. This could mean doing something simple, like stating aloud, "I will let go of stress and tension" or "I will have a restful night's sleep." If writing is more your style, consider setting aside a few moments to journal about the intention(s) for your practice before you begin.
  1. Follow a guided yoga nidra meditation. You can find guided meditations online or through a reputable yoga teacher. (The Dr. Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine also offers this one free of charge.) The meditation will take you through a series of relaxation exercises, focusing on different parts of the body and breath.
  1. Allow yourself to fully relax during the meditation. If your attention wanders, simply bring it back to the guided meditation you’re listening to by honing in on the voice of your guide. Bringing your attention back to your breathing can also be helpful in harnessing a wandering mind.
  1. When the meditation is complete, take a few deep breaths and slowly begin to move small areas of your body, like your fingers and toes, until you’ve brought yourself back to full awareness.

woman practicing yoga at home

Putting It All Together 

We all know how alert and energized we feel after a night of great sleep. So, if you're constantly struggling with getting your best rest, yoga nidra can be a helpful habit to incorporate into your nightly routine.  

By reducing stress and anxiety, regulating the nervous system, and enhancing mental clarity and creativity, yoga nidra offers a whole-person approach to sleep improvement. Give it a try, and let us know what you think! 

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