We all know how important sleep is to our overall wellbeing. When we forget, we might struggle with a lack of inspiration, frustration with our students, or straight-up yoga teacher burnout! Our students are no different! So, we wanted to share some strategies on how you can help your yoga students prioritize sleep.

A great way to speak to your students about sleep is when you’re guiding them into savasana, the ultimate rest pose. In Eastern health systems, stillness is viewed as medicine unlike in the west where busy-ness is all too often glorified. Inviting students to value savasana and rest as extremely beneficial is key to relieving stress, anxiety, and many sleeping issues. When students view good sleep as important, they’ll make it a priority!
Nevertheless, one of the major issues regarding sleep isn’t the fact that it’s not valued, it’s insomnia or difficulty in falling/staying asleep. Yoga Nidra (a form of guided meditation that moves you through different points in the body) is a great yogic tool that can help your students fall asleep at night. Whenever I travel, I plug my earphones into my phone as I go to sleep and listen to a yoga nidra either via YouTube, Spotify, or a meditation app like Insight Timer. No matter how uncomfortable my hotel bed is, falling asleep to a yoga nidra allows me to tune out my crazy day, consciously focus on my breath, relax my body, and be guaranteed a good sleep.


For more on this topic, we reached out to some sleep experts. Here’s what researcher, Alicia Sanchez offered up.

How to Talk to Your Students About Healthy Sleep Habits

Many people who walk into the yoga studio strive to be a better version of themselves. Whether their goal is to develop a stronger body or manage stress more successfully, as a teacher, you’re a guide on a small part of this journey. What happens in the yoga studio is only a glimpse of what it takes to feel good, whole, and strong. An even larger portion takes place at home, beginning with sleep.


Why Talk About Sleep?

In an attempt to get everything done in a hectic modern world, many people sacrifice a few hours of sleep. However, the ability to manage stress and make better decisions would be enhanced by prioritizing sleep rather than seeing as optional. The amount and quality of sleep you get directly affects the way every part of your body functions. Getting a solid seven to eight hours creates optimum health by:
  • promoting good immune system health
  • balancing and regulating the release of hormones that control
  • appetite improving memory
  • helping the mind function with clarity
These are only a few of the many benefits that come from getting a better night’s rest. When you’re rested you feel better, your body functions at peak capacity, and you’re better able to handle the challenges of daily life. Creating a whole, healthy person includes making time for the body to rest and rejuvenate.


Encourage Healthy Sleep Habits

Once you’ve talked about why sleep is so important, it’s time to bring up what healthy sleep habits look like. Some of them you might recognize from childhood.


Consistent Bed and Wake Time
Your sleep (and awake) cycle are determined by circadian rhythms. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, weekends included, helps the body establish healthy circadian rhythms. When these rhythms are working correctly, the brain automatically knows when to release the hormones that start to bring on drowsiness. It works the same way when waking you up in the morning. When you keep a consistent schedule, your body can follow along and provide better rest.


Manage Screen Time Appropriately
The light from screens–televisions, laptops, smartphones, e-readers–can throw off your circadian rhythms. Bright light signals the brain that it’s time to be awake. Turning off screens at least an hour before bedtime can keep your body in tune with its natural sleep cycle. If you still need time to wind down, try establishing a bedtime routine.


Use a Routine to Get Brain and Body Ready for Sleep
Bedtime routines aren’t only for children. They serve a real purpose–to signal the body that it’s time to get ready for sleep. A bedtime routine doesn’t need to be lengthy or extensive, but it should help you relax. A warm bath, reading a book (not on a screen), light meditation, or a warm cup of tea are all activities that help the body release tension from the day and prepare for rest. After a while, as soon as the routine starts, the body begins the process of preparing for sleep on its own.


Weave the Topic of Sleep Throughout the Class

The importance of sleep is a topic that can be brought up naturally throughout a class session. By reminding students recuperation and recovery time are important to a healthy body, you can start to encourage healthy sleep habits.  As you talk about what those habits look like, you encourage students to add another layer on their health journey.

Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com (a non-commercial community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health, and wellness), where she writes about health and wellness and reviews sleep-related products. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.

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