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Can Yoga Help You Sleep Better?

Looking for a holistic way to wind down at the end of the day? Check out five sleep aids that you can implement right away.

When people think of sleeping aids, pills are often the first thing that comes to mind. While there are many effective prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical options, not everyone is keen on taking medication for sleep. For one thing, certain pills could interact with a medicine already being taken. For another, natural sleep remedies may provide similar benefits with potentially less side effects. If you’re looking for a medication-free way to sleep more soundly, consider these five holistic sleep aids.

Practice Yoga
The ancient art of yoga can help reduce stress and may result in better sleep. Yoga nidra is a particular type that uses guided imagery and body scanning in order to relax. Other types of yoga focus on simple poses that help stretch out the body while releasing muscle tension. Before bed, try the classic seated forward bend: Starting in a seated position with legs straight in front of you, reach your arms toward the sky, then exhale as you fold forward and reach toward your toes. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax and repeat.

Try Meditation
Similar to how yoga poses stretch the muscles and release tension, engaging in mindful meditation is another natural way to slow the body down and prepare for sleep. There are different ways to meditate: You can sit quietly, listen to your breath, or channel your energy to focus on a particular word or phrase.

Inhale Essential Oils
Much research has been done into the power of smell, including the ability of certain scents to provide stress relief and trigger a relaxed state. In particular, lavender essential oil has been shown to slow the heart rate and decrease blood pressure. Consider using lavender oil in a diffuser, spritzing your room with a lavender scent, or placing sachets in your sleepwear drawer and closet.

Change Your Sheets
The right bedroom environment plays a critical role in how easily you fall asleep. According to a recent poll, the majority of people view going to bed more positively when their sheets smell clean; they also feel more comfortable when sleeping on fresh linens.

Block Out Noise
White noise machines can help dull the sounds of street life and barking dogs, while producing a soft, consistent hum that makes it easier to relax into slumber. You can also download various soothing sounds, such as waves on the beach or gently chimes, on an iPhone app and play it softly at bedtime.