You turn in bed for the hundredth time and look at the clock: it’s 3 am.
It’s been a few hours since you went to bed, yet sleep doesn’t seem to come.
Your brain is running at 1000mph, worrying, planning, remembering, and it seems that the more you try, the harder it is to fall asleep.
It’s frustrating. It’s been happening for so long that it’s even infuriating. But most of all… it’s exhausting.
Luckily, there is a solution: you just need to learn how to fall asleep.
For centuries, wise men and spiritual seekers have been successfully developing a technique that allows you to do just that: to study and practise the skill of falling asleep until you can master it. Nowadays, this technique is being used by high-performing Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, therapists and psychologists, and even the military, to hack sleep and well-being. Now Sleepability is using it with their sleep coaching clients.
That technique is a guided sleep meditation called Yoga Nidra.
Your Brain On Yoga Nidra
So how does this process work?
Yoga Nidra —also known as “sleep yoga” or “yogic sleep”— allows you to consciously observe yourself in the process of falling asleep by bringing your body to complete relaxation while keeping your mind inwardly alert.
Kamini Desai, Yoga Nidra teacher and author of ‘Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep’, describes Yoga Nidras as “a series of breath, body and awareness techniques that are designed to drop you from a thinking mind, through the feeling body, and into a state of being.”
If that’s too esoteric for you, here’s the scientific explanation:
Yoga Nidra creates a bridge between alpha and delta waves.
What does that mean? During the process of falling asleep, our brain waves move from the active, conscious beta waves (12.5-30 Hz), through alpha waves—when you’re relaxed, but still awake (8-12.5 Hz), then through the REM sleep frequency, theta waves (4-7 Hz), and finally to the deep sleep frequency, delta waves (0.1-3 Hz).
Yoga Nidra guides your consciousness through that process—called the “hypnagogic state”—where the body is asleep, but the mind awake. In other words, you can almost say that Yoga Nidra allows you to remain awake while you fall asleep, so that you can see how it’s done, and do it better.
All You Have To Do Is… Relax
One of the biggest reasons why people struggle to fall asleep is because they can’t relax.
It sounds like such a simple thing to do, and yet it can be so hard.
We have so much tension stored in our muscles (most of us without even noticing), that it’s hard for our body to transition into sleep. Because here’s the truth: if the body is tense, sleep won’t come.
Research shows that Yoga Nidra can be a great way to counteract that tension by inducing deep states of relaxation.
Here’s a quote from a study where the brainwaves of participants were measured while they practised Yoga Nidra:
“The measurements of the brain’s activity (EEG) indicated that the subjects were in a deeply relaxed state, similar to that of sleep, during the whole Yoga Nidra. (…) Furthermore, the state was constant and evenly distributed over the entire brain for the forty-five minutes the relaxation lasted.”
Another way this ancient guided sleep meditation impacts sleep quality is because it facilitates the release of melatonin, which assists us in the process of falling asleep. It also slows the breaking down of melatonin itself, which allows for a deeper, longer, and more restful sleep.
To sum up, Yoga Nidra works like a natural, healthy, no-side-effects sleeping pill that not only gets you to fall asleep faster and more easily by letting your body relax, but also improves the quality of your sleep itself.
Say Goodbye To Anxiety
Perhaps even more commonly than physical tension, emotional and mental stress are two of the main culprits when it comes to insomnia.
How often have you struggled with falling asleep because you couldn’t “switch off” your brain, thinking about work, worrying about problems, or simply thinking about how frustrating it is that you have to wake up early and yet can’t seem to be able to fall asleep?
Luckily, Yoga Nidra can also help with calming your worries and soothing your mind.
It’s been proven that while practising Yoga Nidra, our production of dopamine—a hormone associated with pleasure and happiness—can increase by 65%. That is quite significant when it comes to improving our mental and emotional well-being.
If you’re still not convinced that it can help you reduce your stress, it might help to know that Yoga Nidra has been proven effective in curing cases as severe as post traumatic stress disorder in military combat veterans, as well as treating women suffering from trauma resulting from abuse.
Kamini Desai’s students often tell her that after a few Yoga Nidra sessions, they managed to sleep all night long for the first time in months—or even years. She claims that Yoga Nidra helps change their relationship with their own emotions, and they can finally let go and drop to sleep.
In conclusion, Yoga Nidra can forever change your ability to let go of tension, anxiety and stress, and radically improve your sleep. If this is something you struggle with, read on to learn how to practise effectively.
The Most Powerful Nap You’ve Ever Experienced
Some people think that if they practise enough Yoga Nidra, they don’t need to sleep.
Unfortunately, although this idea might sound appealing to some (imagine how much you could get done if you wouldn’t need to spend time sleeping!), Yoga Nidra cannot replace sleep.
However, it’s been estimated that as little as thirty minutes of Yoga Nidra can have the same effect as four hours of sleep. People have often described Yoga Nidra as being a more powerful alternative to a nap, because you get the deep rest benefits without the drowsiness that often follows short power naps.
So apart from working as an effective “add-on” to improve your sleep, Yoga Nidra also works as deep rest in and off itself. You might be surprised by its effects when practised as an afternoon break from work, a mid-morning boost, or an evening preparation for bed.
Start Practising Today: Easy Instructions for Guided Meditation
You might be thinking: okay, I just want to be able to sleep better, and this whole Yoga Nidra thing sounds great, but how can I do it? Where do I start?
Yoga Nidra is by default a guided sleep meditation, and that’s part of the reason why it’s so powerful. By simply following the instructions, you allow your brain to stop thinking, and you can relax more deeply. Therefore, it might be helpful to either look for yoga nidra classes near you, or simply listen to the guided meditation you can find after the instructions below.
Here’s how you can prepare for your guided sleep meditation at home:
- Get yourself in a comfortable position, ideally lying down. If this isn’t comfortable for you, find a position where you can remain still for 20 minutes, for example on your side, or with a cushion to support your knees. During the practice, try to remain still. If you feel the desire to move, watch it first and often it will pass. In case you do need to move, do so with awareness and return to a settled position. You can do this in your bed, on the floor, or wherever you prefer.
- As you get deeper into the meditation your body temperature will drop, therefore you might want to cover yourself with a warm blanket.
- Eliminate as many distracting sounds as possible from your environment (close doors and windows, switch off noisy electronics, put your phone to silent mode, etc.)
- Before you start, let go of any tension. Don’t try to “make effort” to succeed during the meditation. Let yourself trust and be completely guided by the sound of your instructor’s voice.
- If you feel your mind drifting off, that’s ok—slowly bring your attention back to the voice. If you find it difficult to begin with, do not worry, you can be confident that even if you don’t hear every word, your subconscious mind is listening and receiving benefits even if your conscious mind is resisting or distracted.
Register below to get your free yoga nidra guided sleep meditation!
The truth is, Yoga Nidra is so easy to practise that whatever style you choose, there’s no way to do it wrong, and anyone can do it.
It’s About Much More Than Sleep
Yoga Nidra is arguably one of the most effective tools out there when it comes to sleep improvement—which is reason enough for most people to try it out.
However, the benefits go way beyond sleep improvement.
Even though it’s been brought to mainstream culture as a sleep practice, Yoga Nidra is an ancient technique that has allowed spiritual seekers to achieve heightened states of consciousness for centuries.
Yoga Nidra can be a powerful tool to help you learn more about yourself, achieve greater levels of clarity, increase your productivity and energy levels, and even find deep inner peace and meaning.
So start with improving your sleep, and who knows where this journey can take you?
Try yoga nidra today with our free guided sleep meditation download