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Yoga Nidra for Sleep

May 24, 2024

Last updated : May 24, 2024

Isn't it amazing how something as simple as sleep powers our health and well-being? While you dream, your body repairs itself, supporting brain function and maintaining your physical health. So, when you have a bad night’s sleep, you feel it. It affects your mood and even your ability to think. To sleep better, people have tried everything from soothing teas to bedtime podcasts. But what if the answer was as simple as lying your head on a pillow?

Yoga Nidra, meaning "yogic sleep," is a form of guided sleep meditation where practitioners enter a state of conscious relaxation. It brings you to the edge of sleep, allowing your senses, intellect, and mind to completely let go and rest. This technique has caught the attention of researchers and health practitioners around the world, proving to help people not only sleep better but deeper.

Read on to discover the science-backed benefits of Yoga Nidra for sleep and how you can easily practice it at home.

4 Research-backed Benefits of Yoga Nidra for Sleep

Yoga Nidra benefits for sleep

Yoga Nidra is one of the most effective techniques for physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. Though often referred to as meditation, it’s not the same. Instead, Yoga Nidra is an altered state of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness, concentration and hypnosis.

Yoga Nidra deeply relaxes the nervous system, making it a well-known natural remedy for those struggling to sleep. Without medications or clinical therapy, it helps people manage stress, pain, and anxiety—all major factors that disrupt a good night’s sleep.

Reduces Stress

Ever wondered why you feel more relaxed after a few minutes of meditation? It has to do with the autonomic nervous system. This system is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which triggers stress responses, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), responsible for our relaxation. Ideally, these two systems should be balanced, but modern-day life often leads to an overactive SNS, even when we try to relax.

A randomized trial found that Yoga Nidra effectively shifts the nervous system towards the PNS and increases heart rate variability (the variation in time between each heartbeat), which is important for managing stress and improving sleep [1] [2] . Another study on veterans with post-traumatic stress found that this guided sleep meditation increased feelings of relaxation and peace [3]. It has also been useful in the workplace, helping employees relax in high-stress environments [4]. So, by activating our relaxation system, Yoga Nidra actively dials down our stress responses, leading to more calm and better quality sleep.

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Regulates Sleep Cycles

Practicing Yoga Nidra for sleep not only helps us relax at night, but also improves our sleep patterns through the pineal gland [5]. This gland produces and releases melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. A session of Yoga Nidra meditation in the morning can help activate the pineal gland and balance melatonin production, especially at night. Calming sleep meditation also lowers stress and anxiety levels, which are common culprits of low melatonin.

Alleviates Anxiety & Depression

By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, Yoga Nidra improves anxiety, and as a result, how well we sleep [6] [7]. This activation increases heart rate variability, which means that your body can handle stress better and is generally more relaxed and resilient. As a result, your mood and emotional well-being improve, and you sleep better. It also helps calm the mind, making it easier to deal with everyday challenges while leaving you feeling more balanced and peaceful at the end of the day.

Discover: 7 Powerful Yoga Practices for Burnout, Anxiety & Stress Relief

Relieves Insomnia Symptoms

Yoga Nidra can be a great help for those suffering from severe insomnia. Research on chronic insomnia patients has shown that practicing guided sleep meditation reduces the severity of insomnia and improves mental health [8]. In another study, participants with insomnia experienced a significant reduction in negative emotions like distress and nervousness after a 30-minute Yoga Nidra session. They also reported feeling less pain, making sleep meditation a promising treatment for insomnia [9].

How to Do Yoga Nidra: Simple Guided Sleep Meditation

If you’re eager to reap these benefits, this simple Yoga Nidra for sleep practice is a great start. Guided by Senior Yoga Teacher, Omkar, this soothing session will help you turn your awareness inward and discover a deep sense of calm and connection. 

Find a quiet and comfortable place. Lie down on your back in Savasana (Corpse Pose) with your legs slightly apart, eyes closed, and your arms relaxed by your sides, palms facing up. Allow yourself to completely let go and sink into a deeper state of consciousness with Omkar’s guidance.

It's important to note that unlike gentle yoga poses, Yoga Nidra for sleep may be more challenging for beginners. If you're new to Yoga Nidra or are struggling to enter this sleep-like state, there are online guided Yoga Nidra videos as well as certified courses that can help you ease into this rejuvenating practice.

Final Thought

Sleep is crucial for our health and well-being, and Yoga Nidra can help us get there. Mastering Yoga Nidra for sleep takes time, patience, and daily practice. It challenges you to explore the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious parts of your mind all at once. But if you stick with it, you'll not only sleep better but also experience the deep healing and personal growth that comes with meditation.

Reference list:

1. Markil N, Whitehurst M, Jacobs PL, Zoeller RF. Yoga Nidra relaxation increases heart rate variability and is unaffected by a prior bout of Hatha yoga. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Oct;18(10):953-958.


2. Werner GG, Ford BQ, Mauss IB, Schabus M, Blechert J, Wilhelm FH. High cardiac vagal control is related to better subjective and objective sleep quality. Biol Psychol. 2015 Mar;106:79-85.


3. Stankovic L. Transforming trauma: a qualitative feasibility study of integrative restoration (iRest) yoga Nidra on combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Int J Yoga Therap. 2011;(21):23-37.


4. Dwivedi M. Yoga Nidra as a Stress Management Intervention Strategy. Purushartha - A Journal of Management Ethics and Spirituality. 2016;9(1):18-25.


5. Plini ER, Melnychuk MC, Dockree PM. Meditation Experience is Associated with Increased Structural Integrity of the Pineal Gland and greater total Grey Matter maintenance. medRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 Mar 5:2024.03.04.24303649. 


6. Ferreira-Vorkapic C, Borba-Pinheiro CJ, Marchioro M, Santana D. The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors. Int J Yoga. 2018 Sep-Dec;11(3):215-223.


7. Rajagopalan A, Krishna A, Mukkadan JK. Effect of Om chanting and Yoga Nidra on depression anxiety stress, sleep quality and autonomic functions of hypertensive subjects - a randomized controlled trial. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2022 Jun 13;34(1):69-75. 


8. Datta K, Tripathi M, Mallick HN. Yoga Nidra: An innovative approach for management of chronic insomnia- A case report. Sleep Science Practice. 2017;1(1):7


9. Sharpe E, Tibbitts D, Wolfe B, Senders A, Bradley R. Qualitative Impressions of a Yoga Nidra Practice for Insomnia: An Exploratory Mixed-Methods Design. J Altern Complement Med. 2021 Oct;27(10):884-892.


About the author

Ram Jain

Born into a Jain family where yoga has been the way of life for five generations, my formal yoga journey began at age of eight at a Vedic school in India. There I received a solid foundation in ancient scriptures, including Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Yoga Sutras (to name a few).

In 2009, I founded Arhanta Yoga Ashrams. I see yoga as a way to master the five senses, so I named our ashrams 'Arhanta Yoga,' the yoga to master the five senses!

In 2017, I also founded Arhanta Yoga Online Academy so that people who can not visit our ashrams can follow our courses remotely.

At Arhanta, we don't just teach yoga. We teach you how to reach your potential, deepen your knowledge, build your confidence, and take charge of your life.

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