Yoga for better sleep
Yoga for Better Sleep

Paperback, 376 pages

Publisher: North Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781623173630

Dimension: 5.5 x 8.5

Also available in Kindle format


Although modern science has unraveled some of the mysteries of our sleeping, dreaming, and waking states and age-old yoga practices are helping us enjoy better sleep, clearer minds, and healthier bodies, over 65 percent of U.S. adults are still sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation causes and aggravates ailments like stress, heart conditions, high blood pressure, obesity, and depression. Master yoga teacher, trainer, and best-selling author Mark Stephens provides easy-to-do, effective yoga activities–including postural sequences, breathing exercises, and meditation practices–for better sleep, no matter your age. He integrates the ancient wisdom of yoga with the insights of modern neuroscience and psychology to offer practical age- and condition-specific tools and sequences for improving sleep naturally and without drugs.

1.5 light increases wakefulness

PRAISE FOR Yoga for Better Sleep

Elena Brower YBS

Elena Brower photo

Natural sleep dissolves deeply held states of tension, empowering us to be our creative best. Mark Stephens’ Yoga for Better Sleep offers a beacon of hope to our exhausted modern world, revealing how the simplest ancient practices of posture, breathing, and meditation can help us to sleep better and live well.

– Elena Brower, best-selling author of Practice You and teacher at

Bernie Clark YBS

Bernie Clark photo

Yoga for Better Sleep is a wonderful guide for anyone, not just those suffering sleep issues or teachers helping students. Beyond the fascinating, current science of sleep, it delves into therapies for sleepers of all ages and backgrounds, from babies to seniors, offering in depth yoga prescriptions as well as valuable lifestyle changes. Its breadth is wonderful and its depth is considerable. This is not a surprise considering Mark Stephens’ pedigree and past writings.

– Bernie Clark, author, Yin Yoga and Your Body, Your Yoga

Richard Miller YBS

Richard Miller photo

With an in-depth presentation of the nature of sleep, Stephens orients the avid reader to what lies behind getting, or not getting, a good night's sleep, offering yoga practices – including yoga nidra – that are an exquisite means of self-enquiry and awakening. I hope this book find its way into the hands of many

– Richard Miller, author, Yoga Nidra, co-founder, International Association of Yoga Therapists

Diana Alstad YBS

Diana Alstad photo

Finally, an in-depth yogic approach to insomnia that integrates yoga and science! Mark Stephens distills the essential insights of neuroscience, psychology, and the yoga tradition to better understand the nature of sleep and how to improve sleep using yoga rather than pharmaceutical drugs and narrow behaviorist techniques. With chapters on yoga for specific conditions – including stress, anxiety, depression, and different ages – this book offers an invaluable resource for anyone interested in better sleep and a healthier life.

– Diana Alstad, co-author (with Joel Kramer), The Passionate Mind Revisited

Loren Fishman YBS

Loren Fishman photo

The universal necessity of sleep is well-met by the universal appeal of this well-informed, bold and resourceful book, bringing ancient wisdom and practice to bear on contemporary anxiety. Insomnia touches the lives of over 250,000,000 Americans; a drugless, easily used, virtually costless remedy without hangover isn’t such a bad idea.

– Loren Fishman, M.D., author, Yoga for Arthritis and Yoga for Osteoporosis


Foreword by Sally Kempton



Part I: Foundations

Chapter I: The Myths and Nature of Sleep

  • Introduction: Myth and Science
  • Waking and Wake States
  • Sleeping
    • Process S: Natural Sleep Pressure
    • Process C: Circadian Rhythm
  • Sleep States
    • NREM Sleep States
    • REM Sleep State
    • States of Consciousness in Ancient Yoga
  • The Purpose of Sleep
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Cleansing

Chapter 2: The Nature of Sleep Disorders

  • Sleep and Wakefulness Disorders
    • Insomnia
      • What Causes Insomnia
        • Stress, Anxiety, PTSD, and Hyperarousal
        • Depression and Lethargy
        • Physical Pain and Fatigue
        • Timing Issues: Age, Hormones, Chronotypes, Television, Travel, and Shift Work
      • Sleep Apnea
      • Restless Legs Syndrome
      • Narcolepsy
      • Sidebar: Parainsomnias
      • Stimulants
  • The Yoga View of Sleep Disturbance
    • Dukkha, Samskaras, and Kleshas
    • Gunatraya: Rajas, Tamas, Sattva
  • The Consequences of Poor Sleep

Chapter 3: The Art and Science of Sleeping Well

  • Appreciative Assessment
  • Medicated Sleep
    • Alcohol
    • Cannabis
    • Prescription Drugs & Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
    • Herbal Sleep Aids
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Changing Your Mind
    • Positively Associating Your Bed with Sleep
    • Bedtime
    • A Few Issues with Cognitive Behavioral Psychology
  • The Universal Sleep Prescription: Sleep Hygiene
    • Creating Healthy Daily Rhythms
    • A Bedroom and Bed for Sleeping Well
    • Creating a Sleep Paradise
    • What Your Eat – and When
    • Sidebar: Ayurveda, Diet, and LIfestyle
    • Exercise and Sleeping Well
    • Sidebar: Napping
  • Better Sleep with Yoga
    • The Path of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
      • Yama: Cultivating a Moral Life
      • Niyama: Caring for Yourself
      • Asana: Developing Steadiness and Ease
      • Pranayama: Awakening and Balancing Energy
      • Sidebar: Transforming Tension with Somatics
      • Pratyahara: Letting Go of Distractions
      • Dharana: Focusing Your Mind
      • Dhyana: Opening to a Clear Mind
      • Samadhi: The Fruits of Yoga
  • Koshas: Mapping the Yoga Path to Better Sleep
    • Annamaya Kosha
    • Pranamaya Kosha
    • Manomaya Kosha
    • Vijnanamaya Kosha
    • Anandamaya Kosha
  • From Theory to Practice

Part II: Practices

  • Overview
  • Essential Qualities in Doing Yoga
    • Sthira Sukham Asanam: Steadiness, Ease, and Presence of Mind
    • Tapas, Abhyasa, and Vairagya: Discipline, Perseverance, and Non-Attachment
    • Playing the Edge
    • Ujjayi Pranayama: Uplifting Breathing
    • Alignment Principles
    • Energetic Actions

Chapter 4: The Basic Yoga Sleep Sequence

  • Introduction
  • When to Do the Basic Yoga Sleep Sequence
  • What You Will Need
  • Doing the Sequence
    • Step 1: Sitting and Breathing
    • Step 2: Basic Postural Sequence for Sleep
    • Sidebar: On Meditation
    • Step 3: Mindful Breathing Meditation for Settling Your Mind

Chapter 5: Yoga Sleep Sequence for Hyperarousal

  • Introduction to Settling Down
  • What You Will Need
  • Doing the Sequence
    • Step 1:
      • Nadi Shodhana Pranayama: Alternate Nostril Breathing
      • Visama Vrtti Pranayama: Calming Breath
    • Step 2: Postural Practice for Hyperarousal
      • From the Feet to the Legs
      • The Hips and Pelvis
      • The Spine and Torso
      • The Arms and Shoulders
      • The Hands and Wrists
      • The Neck
    • Step 3: Progressive Relaxation Through Yoga Nidra
      • Overview
      • Doing the Yoga Nidra Sequence        
      • Body Awareness
      • Breath Awareness
      • Thought and Feeling Awareness
      • Visualization
      • Affirmation

Chapter 6: Sleep Sequence for Depression and Lethargy

  • Introduction: Depression, Sleep, and Brightening Your Day
  • When to Do the Depression and Lethargy Practice
  • What You Will Need
  • Doing the Sequence
    • Step 1: Dynamic Postural Practice
    • Step 2: Energizing and Emotionally Balancing Breathing Practice
      • Kapalabhati: Cultivating Light
      • Bastrika: The Fiery Bellows Breath
      • Sitali: Cooling Breath
      • Suryabheda: Stimulating Vitality
      • Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathing
    • Step 3: Heart Centered Meditation

Chapter 7: Sleeping Across the Ages

  • Sleeping Through the Ages
    • Children’s Sleep
      • Infants
      • Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers
    • School-Age Children
    • Adolescents
      • Yoga for Better Adolescent Sleep
    • Older Adults
      • Yoga for Better Sleep in Older Adults

Chapter 8: Yoga for Breathing-Related Sleep Disorders

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Yoga Sequence for Sleep Apnea
    • Step 1: Weight Loss Practices
    • Step 2: Tongue and Mouth Exercises
      • Tālavya Kriya
      • Jalandhar Bandha
      • Simhasana
    • Step 3: Respiratory Strengthening
      • Antara Kumbhaka and Bahya Kumbhaka
      • Sama Vrtti and Visama Vitti
      • Viloma
      • Nadi Shodhana

Chapter 9: Chair Yoga Sleep Sequences

  • Sitting Down to Sit Up
  • What You Will Need
  • Doing the Practice
    • Step 1: Sitting and Breathing
    • Step 2: Chair Yoga for Sleep Postural Practice
    • Step 3: Meditation

Epilogue: Daily and Nightly Rituals for Better Sleep


  • Appendix I: International Classification of Sleep Disorders
  • Appendix II: Sleep Assessment
  • Appendix III: Tips for Better Sleep
  • Appendix IV Sleep Strategies and Yoga for Jet Lag and Shift Work
  • Appendix V: Additional Sleep Resources

Glossary of Key Terms




About the Author


Yoga for Better Sleep - Spanish