The One Thing You Can Do Daily for Better Sleep

Logging hours is one thing, but getting the right quality ZzZ's can make all the difference.

June 9, 2015

Everyone knows how beneficial getting enough sleep is. But are you getting the right quality sleep, too? A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine reveals that your daily activity levels have an impact on your overall sleep. Whereas people who spend a good portion of their day attending to household activities or childcare typically get less restful sleep during the night, those who spend more time doing activities like walking, aerobics, cycling, golfing, running, weight lifting, yoga, or Pilates tend to sleep more soundly. Not like you didn't already have enough to worry about when your head hits the pillow with tomorrow's big meeting and that nagging wondering if you left the stove on.

More: How to Increase Flexibility With Yoga

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Pure Yoga instructor Caroline Klohs knows all about it. Klohs has taught people with high-stress jobs, like those on Wall Street, to take a step back using four specific yoga moves before bed. Her mantra? If it the right poses work for them, then they'll work for anyone. And considering yoga is one of the activities that ensures a better night's rest, she's certainly got the right attitude.

"I encourage my students to do these four yoga poses before going to bed if they are struggling with insomnia or a sleep disorder," says Klohs. "Taking 15 to 20 minutes to quiet the mind, and close out your day, are very important to get a good nights rest."

Before breaking into Klohs' sequence, she encourages that you put your phone away, turn off the TV, and fully remove yourself from electronic life. This pre-bedtime yoga routing will bring your focus inward. Make sure to inhale for six counts and exhale for six counts throughout each pose. 

1. Standing Forward Bend. Start standing up, feet shoulder width apart. On an inhale, raise the arms above the head and stretch the spine. On an exhale slowly fold over your legs. Stop where it feels comfortable. Completely release through the neck. Feel free to let the arms hang or grab opposite elbows. Close the eyes and turn focus inward.

2. Seated Spinal Twist. Sit on the ground with your legs crossed and your spine long. Take a deep breath in and, on a slow exhale out, turn toward your right. Place your right hand behind you and your left hand on your right knee. Follow the twist up the entire spine from the lower back, vertebra by vertebra. Repeat for the left side.

More: 5 Stress-Reducing Yoga Poses

3. One Hand on Heart, One Hand on Belly. Start by lying on the ground. Bend your knees, and place the feet a few inches from the buttocks. Open the legs into a butterfly position, and bring the bottoms of the feet together to touch. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Close the eyes, and feel the connection to your breath.

4. Feet Up the Wall. Lie on the ground, and get your buttocks as close to the wall as possible. Slowly place the legs fully vertical on the wall while your torso remains on the ground. Close the eyes and have your arms lay flat beside you with the palms facing up.