Get a More Restful Night’s Sleep with Bedtime Yoga and a Boosted Sleepy Time Tea
My yoga practice, while ever evolving, has played a role in my health and healing for about 10 years now. The beauty of the practice, whether it’s a powerful 90 minute vinyasa flow or a 30 minute restorative session of just a few long-holding poses – yoga has the power to refresh, to heal and to replenish the body.
I have shifted from the more powerful, long, morning vinyasa practices of my past to instead beginning my days with strength training sessions at the gym in the morning, with light yoga asana weaved throughout and these days I try to always finish my day with a little restorative yoga before bed. I have a new found appreciation for yoga’s power to ease me into a restful and quality sleep, through deep breathing and the physical release of tension.
No matter what poses you include and no matter the reason you were brought to your mat in the first place, yoga always places an emphasis on the combination and synchronization of breath and movement. This combination activates your parasympathetic nervous system which helps to alleviate stress and calm the body, together these can make a regular bedtime yoga practice a very effective sleep remedy.
Sleep is such an important and often neglected part of our lives, but this is when our body repairs on a cellular level, it digests and detoxifies, removing toxins, so it’s vital that we be getting 6-8 hours every single night. Maybe you can’t shut your brain off or maybe you toss and turn all night struggling to get comfortable. Whatever the reason, there are studies galore that prove the increased health risks associated with sleeplessness.
Give yourself 10 minutes before bedtime to include this simple sequence of gentle poses paired with this boosted sleepy time tea featuring Vital Proteins‘ Collagen, to let go of your day and prepare for a lovely night’s rest. You can even get yourself set up right on the bed, so you can stretch it out and roll right under the covers for your savasana.
Before your start your bedtime yoga ritual…
Make Yourself a Cozy Hot Mug of Boosted Sleepy Time Tea
For an even more restful sleep add a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides or Marine Peptides to a mug of your favorite calming herbal tea, to sip on just prior to or while during your bedtime yoga. I find either chamomile, a “sleeptime blend” or a blend with valerian root to be most soothing at night before sleep.
Collagen from Vital Proteins (sourced from grass-fed cows and wild caught fish, respectively) provides, in abundance, the incredible calming effects of glycine. Glycine, a non-essential amino acid, subjectively and objectively improves sleep quality in humans who have difficulty sleeping. Glycine has been shown to improve sleep quality and sleep efficacy (sleep time/in-bed time). Glycine also lessens daytime sleepiness and improved performance of memory recognition tasks.  In both the peripheral and central nervous system, glycine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter via glycine receptors . Conversely, this amino acid also acts as an excitatory co-agonist via the N-methyl- d-aspartate subtype of glutamate receptors . Glycine has anti- in ammatory effects during ischemia, injury, and transplantation . Moreover, glycine is known to attenuate the increase in fatty acids in rats fed on a high sucrose diet 
In subjects given glycine, the VAS data showed a signicant reduction in fatigue and a tendency toward reduced sleepiness. These observations were also found via the questionnaire, indicating that glycine improves daytime sleepiness and fatigue induced by acute sleep restriction. 
18 grams of protein from Vital Proteins‘s Original collagen peptides provides over 3.7 grams of glycine. Making it a perfect, clean source for helping to improve sleep quality, especially when combined with a regular yoga practice, at bedtime or otherwise.
Vital Proteins‘ Glycine Levels:
Marine Collagen: 3736mg Glycine (11g Protein)
Collagen Peptides: 3719mg Glycine (18g Protein)
Beef Gelatin: 3512mg Glycine (17g Protein)
Collagen peptides are virtually tasteless and odorless making it extremely versatile and great for mixing into hot or cold beverages.
Finally, Don’t Forget to Shut Off
Cutting down your use of electronics a couple of hours before bed time can help sleep by not stimulating your brain with the bright lights of screens.
Yoga for Restful Sleep
(these photos were originally shot in 2014 by Jessica Vastola for a series I ran with Simply Gluten-Free Magazine)
For this sequence, you can set up and practice on the floor near your bed or right on your bed if you have the space and feel supported, then you can just roll over and drift right off into dreamland.
Downward Facing Thunderbolt Pose / Adho Mukha Vajrasana
Come to your hands and knees, then sit your hips back gently towards your heels. Knees hip width apart, tops of the feet pressing down, toes point back with big toes gently touching. Bring your forehead to the floor, if it doesn’t reach place a block, bolster, pillow or blanket under your head. Extend your arms out actively in front of you. Hands shoulder width apart, fingers spread wide. Palms press evenly into the ground. With straight elbows, press actively into your hands and lift your forearms up and away from the mat while the outer upper arms hug in towards your ears. Gently close your eyes and take a moment to find your breath. Begin breathing deeply, in and out through your nose, matching the length of your inhales to your exhales.
Cat and Cow / Marjaryasana and Bitilasana
Come into tabletop pose, with your hips over your knees, your knees hip width apart and tops of the feet pressing evenly, feet parallel. Place your shoulders over your wrists and have your hands shoulder width apart, fingers spread wide. On an inhale, press firmly into your hands and round your spine, drop your head, bring your chin in towards your chest, shoulder blades move away from each other. Tuck your pelvis and your tailbone towards your chest.
On an inhale, while you support the low back with your abdomen, move in the opposite direction, bring your sit bones toward the ceiling. Move the upper spine into your chest to find an openness across the front and back of your chest. Gaze forward.
Continue to move on the inhales and the exhales and repeat cat and cow a couple more times, at the end coming back to a neutral spine in table top pose.
Star Pose / Tarasana
From a seat, bring the soles of your feet to touch, about 16 to 20 inches in front of you, creating a diamond shape with the legs. Place blocks, pillows or blankets under your knees if you have any pain. Actively press the soles of your feet together. Keep your elbows along side your body near your waist, do not push down into the knees with your elbows. Inhale, grab onto your shins, ankles or feet and sit up tall to find length in your spine. On an exhale fold forward at the hips, both sit bones stay rooted down. Extend the spine out long and find depth into the forward fold on your exhales. After a few breaths, round forward with the spine, releasing the neck. If the stretch on the back is too much, place a block, pillow or blanket under the forehead, to fully release. Do not bounce your knees up and down. Stay for a few breaths.
Stomach Twist / Jathara Parivartanasana
Come to lie down on your back. Bend your knees, cross the left leg over the right and softly allow your knees to fall to the right. Extend your arms out at shoulder height, palms facing up and take your gaze towards the left side. If it feels better, use a hand to hold the legs down. Stay for a few breaths and then switch sides.
Legs up the Wall Pose / Viparita Karani
Bring the short edge of your mat towards a wall. Bring your bottom towards the wall and swing your legs up the wall, the back of your torso will be on the ground, shoulder blades press evenly. Have your arms resting comfortably alongside your body, with palms facing up. Press actively through the feet. Stay for several breaths. You can hold this pose as long as you’d like. 5 to 20 minutes, even. To come out of the pose, bring your knees in toward your chest and roll to your right side. Take a few breaths lying on your right side, then slowly come up to a comfortable seated position to prepare for savasana.
Corpse Pose / Savasana
For your final resting pose enjoy savasana and let this roll right into your sleep. Lie on your back with your eyes closed gently. Let your feet fall softly away from each other, place your hands alongside your body with your palms facing up. You can cover yourself with blankets, if you’d like. Then, make sure to take a moment to bring an awareness to your breath moving through your body, but don’t do anything to change it. Try to let go of any tension and holding in your body. Just breathe.
Sources: Bannai M, Kawai N, Ono K, Nakahara K, Murakami N. The Effects of Glycine on Subjective Daytime Performance in Partially Sleep-Restricted Healthy Volunteers. Frontiers in Neurology 2012;3:61. doi:10.3389/fneur.2012.00061.  Johnson JW, Ascher P, Nature. 1987 Feb 5-11; 325(6104):529-31.  Rajendra S, Lynch JW, Scho eld PR Pharmacol Ther. 1997; 73(2):121-46.  Zhong Z, Wheeler MD, Li X, Froh M, Schemmer P, Yin M, Bunzendaul H, Bradford B, Lemasters JJ Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2003 Mar; 6(2):229- 40.  Yamadera W, Inagawa K, Chiba S, et al. “Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes.” Sleep Biol Rhythms. 2007;5:126–131. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x