When I don’t get enough sleep, I wake up so groggy that I worry how I’ll get through the day. I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid. Coffee just makes me jittery. Is there any other quick fix that will make me sharp until I can get to bed again?
It’s no wonder that lack of sleep leaves us feeling “spaced out” and agitated. Sleep is when our brains and bodies repair themselves from the stresses of the day. Muscles relax…physical tensions are released…and brain neurons that affect important cognitive functions have a chance to regenerate.
Since you can’t stay in bed and catch the shut-eye you missed (no doubt what you’d rather do!), you need a quick fix to get you through the day. To the rescue: Inversion poses, in which your hips are higher than your head and heart, stimulate your vagus nerve, the longest and most complex nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system and one that connects your brain to virtually every part of your body. Stimulating the vagus nerve slows your heart and breathing and puts you into a state of calm that not only eases anxiety but also boosts brain function—just what you need after a night of not sleeping.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should launch into a handstand first thing in the morning! Instead, try a gentle inversion pose—one called Legs Up the Wall. This is a simple pose that anyone can master, including people who don’t practice yoga.(Note: Legs Up the Wall and other head-down yoga positions should be avoided by people with certain health issues, such as glaucoma and high blood pressure. If you’re being treated for a medical condition, check with your doctor before doing this pose.) Bonus: This pose also can help you sleep better if you do it before bedtime.
Here’s how to do it…
Sit with your right or left side as close to a wall as you can and your legs extended straight in front of you. Now swing both legs up the wall while swiveling your torso so that it is perpendicular to the wall and your upper body is lying flat on the floor. Your butt should be pressed against the wall and your legs fully extended straight up, resting on the wall. Place a yoga block, thick book or folded towel underneath your hips to create a slight slope in your torso from pelvis to shoulders. Let your arms relax by your sides.
Now breathe. Inhale, expanding your belly and your ribcage fully…then exhale, taking twice as long to let yourbreath out. For example, if you breathe in for four counts, breathe out for eight counts.
Stay in the pose, breathing this way, for five to 10 minutes.
You’ll emerge feeling noticeably better than before—refreshed, even! And once you’ve made it through your day in a better state, you might want to also try theyoga moves in Bottom Line’s “To Get to Sleep Fast, Do These 6 Easy Yoga Moves”—to keep those sleepless nights at bay!