Not all cases of insomnia can be attributed to stress. However, being under lots of stress can definitely cause insomnia. Unfortunately, stress is an all too common element in today’s offices and workplaces. If your insomnia is brought on by stress, don’t worry, there is some good news: practicing activities proven to alleviate stress could also deal with your insomnia. Just remember that not all stress-relieving activities are created equal; some, like yoga and archery, are way better at stress-relief than others.
Yoga and Sleep Disturbance
There are many studies and personal accounts that link Yoga to stress relief and good sleep quality. Among these studies is a 2013 cross-sectional study conducted in Nagpur city in northern India. The participants consisted of adults aged 60 and above – 65 elderly men and women divided into two groups. The non-Yoga group consisted of 30 individuals, while the Yoga group consisted of 35. Participants of the Yoga group attended the Patanjali Yog Centre of Nagpur City on a daily basis, regularly practicing yoga from 6AM to 7AM with assistance from a certified instructor. A lot of the poses they practiced are considered by modern Yoga practitioners to be poses that relieve anxiety, such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana aka Bridge Pose, Matsyasana aka Fish Pose, and Dhanurasana aka Bow Pose.
The results were tallied by letting participants answer questionnaires that measure their quality of sleep as well as their quality of life. Based on the results, the study concluded that the long-term practice of Yoga can contribute to good sleep quality and lessen the sleep disturbances that often plague the elderly. A lot of it is attributed to how regularly doing Yoga poses can prevent muscle dystrophy in the elderly, resulting in more flexibility, less pain, and less decline in the full physical function of joints. Whether you are elderly or not, you can definitely reap some of these stress-alleviating and insomnia-beating benefits by regularly practicing Yoga.
Archery as Meditation
The act of archery requires that you be in full control of your entire body. This means learning the proper posture, movements, and using your core as a source of power for fluidly executing the movements while maintaining the proper posture. Apart from posture and core control, archery requires a great deal of focus, which is attained through proper breathing, concentration, and calmness of the mind. Much like meditation, archery both requires and results in focus and relaxation.
This is why in ancient Japan, the ‘Way of the Bow’ or Kyudo is regarded as more than a deadly martial art or hunting tool. Think of it as a way to take and sharpen your ability to focus by maintaining a calm mind and body. In fact, archery’s highly physical and meditative nature has always been recognized in Japan as a long-term way to improve posture, muscle tone, and circulation, resulting in greater longevity.
Today’s archery practitioners recognize even more of archery’s benefits as a tool for meditation and alleviating stress – just ask Kisik Lee, the National Head Coach of the US Olympic Archery Training Program since January 2006. Popularly known for merging traditional archery teachings with modern training and shooting methods, Lee says that the focused breathing from guided meditation as well as Yoga can be used to improve accuracy and control in archery. He explains further that with enough practice, an archer can achieve a level of relaxation that’s similar to the relaxation that can be achieved in Yoga.
Whether you want to try out archery, Yoga, or both, what’s certain is that you’ll be using your mind and body to achieve a state of deep focus and relaxation. Remember that while they’re both calming activities, Yoga and archery can also be physically taxing. Avoid doing them before bedtime. Put at least 5 to 6 hours between your actual bedtime and any of these activities. Better yet, do them after waking up. This will let you better reap the relaxing and stress-relieving benefits of both activities without interfering with your attempts to fall asleep.