One doesn’t normally go to a physiatrist with sleeping problems. However, we have developed and successfully tested a three-step yoga sequence that can be done in bed to go to sleep or to go back to sleep. This no-drug approach has been effective more than 75% of the time in more than 20 grateful patients thus far.
The method takes about 5-7 minutes, and has three parts:
- Supine straight leg stretch [Supta Padangusthasana]
- Breathing exercise [Viloma]
- Ten conceptual foci [from Vairaga Tantra]
It is probably superfluous to note that there are no side-effects or ‘hangover’ aspects to this means of getting to sleep. Rather, one awakens refreshed and alert. Early investigation suggests that the method works by suppressing orexin, the alerting and appetite- increasing hormone. You awaken because your nervous system computes the changing strengths of your sleep debt and the diurnal influences on alertness. In this respect the yogic answer to insomnia gives you the physiologic amount of sleep, but leaves you totally unsedated and alert upon awakening.
This method is described in Healing Yoga. Fishman LM. W.W. Norton 2015: New York, and we teach it in our office.