After performing for two years, this June I said a bittersweet farewell to Sleep No More NYC, an Off-Broadway dance and theater production in Chelsea. Though it was both a thrilling job and a wonderful challenge, performing the 3-hour show once or twice nightly became incredibly exhausting, and my immune system began to suffer.
Sleep No More is aptly named (for the performers at least), and as you can probably imagine, my performance schedule caused my sleep cycle to suffer. In attempt to preserve the healthy sleep habits I had practiced before joining the Sleep No More cast, I started digging around for tips and advice from some experts.
What I discovered was surprising. According to the latest count by Centers for Disease Control, approximately 50-70 million Americans suffer from insomnia. And not only that, some 60 million prescriptions for sleep-aid medications were written in the past year. However, like most medications, prescription sleep-aid medications come with their laundry list of potential side effects. On the flip side, chronic sleep disorders come with their own list of potential side effects as well, including high blood pressure, type II diabetes, depression, cancer, and obesity. Feeling slightly disheartened by this dead-end, I decided to try a more holistic rout.
As a long-time yoga practitioner and teacher, I began, (skeptically at first- I’ll admit), to do a short series of postures before bed each night. I found that what they offered was two-fold. Physiologically speaking, the series incorporated postures that are calming to the nervous system. Additionally, the practice of slowing down and breathing, something contradictory to our lifestyles in this bustling city, brought forth a mindfulness that helped me to address the underlying reasons I was having trouble sleeping in the first place.
Here’s the series that I’ve found most helpful along with a link to a description and demonstration by YogaJournal.com. It’s short and sweet, taking no more than 15 minutes, and they can all be done in bed.
1. Seated Lord of the Fishes Pose/Ardha Matsyendrasana
2. Seated forward fold/ Paschimottanasana
4. Reclining Big Toe Pose/Supta Pananggusthasana
5. Reclining Bound Angle Pose/Supta Baddha Konasana
6. Corpse Pose/ Savasana