There are several ways yoga can go in a worse way than planned and yield opposite effects to what we intend to achieve. Sleeplessness or having a difficult time sleeping, although rare with yoga, can happen after we practice yoga.
Yoga, if anything, is supposed to help us sleep by keeping a good pose and relaxing the mind and body, but there are two sides to the coin when it comes to yoga.
The practice can work as a natural energy stimulant that can in many cases replace external substances such as coffee or energy drinks.
I’m sure we can agree that it makes no sense to drink coffee right before bed, although I must admit that I’m of the minority that feels sleepier after coffee.
The point I’m trying to make is that general yoga rules may not apply to your situation, and a yoga practice that works to relax many might have the opposite effect on you, which is why the more you know yourself and the more you experiment with different styles of yoga, the easier it is to hit the jackpot when it comes to finding a yoga that’s right for you.
Below, I’ll outline some of the possible reasons you might be having a hard time sleeping after your session and whether you should do yoga before bed.
Keep in mind that your experience could be the complete opposite of what I’m mentioning here, so always let your body and mind be the ultimate judges to determine whether what I say is applicable to you or not.
Yoga Can Build Excess Energy
If you are practicing yoga before bed because yoga is both good at relaxing you and giving you lots of energy, that energy might stack on to you, at which point, you might have a harder time falling asleep.
This may also be a beginner’s thing since the body and mind need time to get used to adopting yoga as a habit in our day-to-day life, and along that path, some will experience drawbacks with the practice such as having a harder time falling asleep.
But having a harder time falling asleep can be a good thing if it’s because of excess energy, in the sense that you can tell that the yoga is working for you. All that needs to change is the timing so you can reap the benefits of yoga without being sleep-deprived.
When you practice yoga before bedtime, one of two things can happen. You either feel sleepier and props to you, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep, or you might feel more alert, which also is great, just make some adjustments and you’ll be walking the path of becoming your best self through yoga with some minor changes.
The Mind’s Interpretation of Yoga
It’s easy for the mind to conflate yoga with exercise since both share similar characteristics. Yoga can after all build heat in the body and increase our heart rate, and because of the heat that’s built up, many recommend against bathing after a yoga practice.
It’s true that yoga can grow muscles and make you physically stronger but that’s not what yoga is used for, predominantly, which is why it’s more popular with women than men.
Treat yoga as a practice that can find this balance between high energy and feeling calm, but understand it can also lean more toward one direction than another.
Yoga is something new for the mind, and it’s common, on a subconscious level to use the past as a reference for the future and present, and exercise would be the closest point of reference the mind can compare to, so therefore, it can take some time for the mind to adapt to yoga.
It’s common to get an adrenaline boost during yoga that’s no different than the one you get during physical exercise, and that adrenaline boost can backfire when it comes to bedtime.
When you’ve never done a pose before, a wide range of things can happen. Your body might go with the flow, or show some resistance to certain poses by making you feel sick as a fight-or-flight response.
It’s always good to explore new poses and ways to do yoga, but it’s also great if our minds and bodies can catch up to the changes, so these poses become so intense they manifest some sort of anxiety or stress on the yoga practitioner, which comes up before sleep and thus, makes it harder to fall asleep.
It’s unlikely for yoga to ever cause difficulties with falling asleep, but it’s worth being aware of the different personalities when it comes to doing yoga, even if, chances are, you will be fine by just following best practices and what works for most. This speaks more to the exception that encounters roadblocks in their yoga journey.
After a yoga session, there are some who experience muscle shaking when they are done with the practice, which can contribute to difficulty when trying to fall asleep.
Generally, it’s no cause to be concerned but worth mentioning since it can be a contributor to creating more difficulty in falling asleep after doing yoga.
Sometimes this muscle shaking may extend to some form of pain or discomfort, but most of the time, it’s a transitional process of the body adapting to creating the habit of yoga in our lives. Of course, it never hurts to get checked just to be safe and it’s always recommended.
Should You Do Yoga Before Sleep
Assuming you don’t face any of these problems mentioned, yoga can be practiced at any time throughout the day. However, there’s a strong preference amongst the yoga communities to practice in the morning, as it’s a great way to start the day with a head start and overall be more energized.
But it’s fine and even recommended to practice yoga before sleeping, since it can give you an easier time falling asleep if your mind and body cling more to the relaxing side of yoga.
In this case, it will often result in a better quality of sleep and deeper sleep. Yoga is after all a way to let out the worries of the mind and enjoy the peace you can cultivate within.
When Is The Best Time to Do Yoga for Good Sleep?
There are no rules nor guidelines everyone should follow since it’s been shown that because we’re so different, yoga works for some best in the morning whereas for others it works best at night or in the evening.
But a good rule of thumb just to be on the safe side and not create a risk for sleep disturbances or difficulties falling asleep is to have a few hours of gap between yoga and bedtime, so the mind and body can process the yoga practice.
This applies more to the newbie that’s never done yoga before because the practice in itself is a paradigm shift.
Another good practice is to do yoga when you already feel energized. It’s not recommended to do yoga when you’re tired because you could wind up feeling even more depleted of energy, which, sure, might help the sleep but not a good state to be in since no one enjoys feeling their energy depleted.
Now, the opposite can also happen and you might use yoga as a way to power yourself up better than any energy drink or coffee ever could, but these are just the best practices to make the yoga practice as efficient as possible, without disturbing or negatively affecting other aspects the session is meant to improve on, such as sleep.