Three Exercises for Good Sleep

To close off our little fitness for writers, I wanted to include a few poses for insomnia.

Sometimes writers are infamous for being terrible sleepers. I don’t know why, but my guess would be that sometimes it’s hard to turn off the stories in our heads (or, worse, the marketing ideas in our heads). I know that I’ve had more than one night with a bunch of ideas swirling around in my brain (I try to keep a pen by my bed or type things into my phone so I can let go of them). And I’ve occasionally gotten up to hide in the bathroom while I quickly jotted down an idea for a story or a weird dream. I don’t even find anything inherently wrong with this type of behavior. On occasion. However, if you’ve got kids or a day job or anything that you need to be somewhat awake for during the day. your insomnia might get in the way and your days might start to feel a little wrecked. If you embrace your insomnia, then embrace away, but if you’ve gotten to the point where you want to get some sleep so you can be more productive during the day, then try these three movements.

Warning: In the following post, we will all be confronted with my not-so-closeted love of yoga and my apparent wish to be a yoga teacher. I did these poses all by my very own self and made my husband take pictures. I neglected to put on make up, but did put on workout clothes. It should be noted that I often (usually) do yoga in my pajamas. (I also often (usually) write in my pajamas; or my workout clothes. It’s complicated.)
  1. Forward fold with the legs wide.

Oh my goodness… After sitting at a desk for ever this is one of my favorite poses in the world. It stretches out my hamstrings, inner thighs, and even shins and feet. And per all the yogis, folding forward can relax you towards sleep.

You can see that I’m not intensely flexible, especially after sitting all day. Some people can fold all the way over. You want to let your legs get the stretch, not your back though, so the idea is to keep the back fairly straight as you fold forward.

Feet can be flexed or pointed. It stretches different muscles both ways. In yoga they’re usually flexed, but I also enjoy the stretch I get when I point them.

2. Twist. This one is very relaxing and stretches and realigns your back. It’s also really nice after sitting and also seems to say to the body, “Let’s get ready for sleep.”

Lie on your back with your knees bent, then let them fall gently to one side. Hold your arms out at a T. Sometimes the arm in the direction opposite the knees, doesn’t touch the ground. That’s okay. Someday it probably will. This stretches the spine and the chest and shoulders.

3. Legs up the wall.

When I was in high school and into the first few years of college, I had horrible insomnia. As the years wore on there were several things that helped me get it under control. One of those things was that I started doing yoga. This pose in particular changed my life (yeah, sounds dramatic; is still kind of true).

You can roll up a mat to use under your bum or a towel or nothing, but it’s nice to have a little height in this pose. Scooch you bum onto your rolled up towel and put your legs straight up the wall, let them relax–nothing should be tensed in this pose. Then hold your arms out to your sides, palms facing up. It’s intensely relaxing, lowers your blood pressure, and some people even say that if you stay here for a while it’s better than taking a nap.

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