There’s nothing more infuriating than getting home after a 12 hour work day on your feet, getting into bed, and then realizing you can’t fall asleep. It doesn’t make any sense! You were yawning for the last three hours of your shift! You are mentally and physically exhausted. But your brain says tough luck and starts racing instead of winding down.
This can happen for a number of reasons — if you had that last cup of coffee a little too late in the evening, if you waited to eat dinner until 9 or 10 p.m. But when you’re a nurse trying to stay awake for your shift, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. There are some easy nighttime rituals that will make it easier to go to bed after a rough shift. Believe it or not, yoga is a great way to help your mind and your body wind down after a hectic day. A national survey found that over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. Over 85% said yoga helped reduce stress. Here are five moves, recommended by the Harvard Health Blog, to try before you crawl into bed.
Wide-Knee Child’s Pose (Balasana)
A fan favorite, child’s pose can help promote a sense of stability and calm. It gently stretches your back and your hips, but is static and secure, so you’re not getting those nerves in your neck and spine fired up. Put your feet together on the mat, and widen your knees hip width apart. Exhale and just fold your torso over your thighs. You can relax your hands, palms up, stretching back by your feet. This is better for nighttime than reaching your hands forward on the mat, which is a more active pose.
Just rest your forehead on the mat and take as many deep, concentrated breaths as you want.
Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Staying on the ground for this move, you can lie flat on your back and give yourself a good hip and groin stretch. Make the balls of your feet tough and let your knees fall away from each other, as close to the ground as they’ll go. Relax your arms on the floor about 45 degrees away from your torso, palms facing the ceiling.
Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani )
This one is especially good for nurses, as it helps recirculate the blood flow in your feet, knees and ankles, which can get swollen and inflamed after a day of working on your feet.
Bring your mat up as close to the wall as possible, lie flat on your back, and gently place your legs up the wall. Try and keep them as straight as possible. Relax your arms by your sides and take a few deep breaths.
Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana) at the wall
You’ll also need a wall for this one. Stand about a foot away from whatever wall you choose, and with your feet hips width apart, press your hands against the wall with your palms spread at the height of your hip. Step back enough so that your back becomes flat and perpendicular to the floor. Keep your feet hips width apart and press your hands into the wall to lengthen your spine. You should be making a backwards L shape with the wall. Your back will feel soooo much better after doing this pose.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Finally, the perfect pose to do right before getting into bed. Lie on your back, take your knees into your chest and take in a big inhale, then exhale and press your legs straight, touching the floor. Lie with your hands relaxed at your sides, palms up. And practice a few deep, concentrated breaths.