The Benefits of Stretching Before Bed
Without even realizing it, you probably have a regular nighttime routine that you run through each night before you go to bed. It might include brushing your teeth, locking up all the doors in your house, or taking your dog out to use the bathroom one last time before you retire for the night.
Stretching before bed
While these things are necessary to have on your nighttime to-do list, you should also consider incorporating some gentle stretches into your nightly schedule.
In a survey from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, over 55% of those who practiced pre-bed yoga experienced better sleep and there are also several scientific studies to back up these claims.
How Nighttime Stretching Contributes To Better Sleep
Have you ever gotten in bed expecting to fall asleep, but anxious or stressful thoughts keep you from dozing off? This is where light yoga stretches come to the rescue.
Practicing yoga before bed helps ease anxiety and teaches mindfulness, allowing you to be more in control of your thoughts and prevent the anxiety-provoking ones from marinating too long in your brain to the point where you can’t shake them.
It also lets you stretch out and loosen up your muscles, which relaxes and prepares them for the following 8 hours of little to no movement.
In the medical journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, they recorded results from both American and Chinese studies regarding the different benefits of stretching before bed.
They show that meditative movements including yoga, tai chi, and qi gong were able to improve people’s sleep quality, and even had a positive impact on their overall physical and emotional well-being. The proof is in the pudding.
Personally, yoga has played a large role in getting my sleep back on track so I get my full 8 hours per night. I expected to sleep like a baby after purchasing a comfortable hybrid mattress, but it still wasn’t enough to counteract my nightly anxiety.
Stretching before bed proved to be my only sleep remedy, especially since I’d rather stick with natural methods as opposed to pharmaceuticals.
Here are a few relaxing, but effective stretches you can do before bed to help improve your sleep quality.
1. Butterfly Pose
You might remember the butterfly stretch or “bound angle pose” from when you were in P.E. class back in grade school, but it’s a great pose for before bed because it’s relaxing and gives you a nice stretch through your inner thighs and lower back.
It also allows you to practice meditation and focus on your breathing.
- Sit down on the floor and put your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bend your knees and connect the soles of your feet.
- Keep your back straight while you slowly pull your feet close to your body.
- Rest and deepen your stretch.
2. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a resting stretch that relieves tension in your neck, back, and shoulders. This is a good one to return to so you can relax in between other, more strenuous stretches.
Try inhaling and exhaling through your nose, your nervous system will thank you!
- Sit on your knees on the floor and lean back so you’re resting on your heels.
- Spread your knees hip-distance apart and lower your head to the ground.
- Reach your arms out in front of you as far as you can, and keep your palms facing down.
- Lengthen your spine, but make sure you feel comfortable.
- Hold the position for five minutes or 10 slow inhales.
3. Downward Dog
This stretch is moderately difficult compared to the others on this list, but poses done in an inverted position are really relaxing for your body and can promote more restful sleep when you do it at nighttime.
Downward dog is a full-body stretch that targets your hips, hamstrings, calves, and also strengthens your ankles and quads at the same time.
- Start on your hands and knees with your wrists aligned with your shoulders and your knees aligned with your hips.
- Spread your fingers out and press firmly into the ground, making sure to evenly distribute weight across both hands.
- Exhale and bring your knees off the floor, lifting your pelvis up and straightening your legs. Push off the floor with your hands, keeping weight evenly distributed.
- Hold for 10 inhales.
4. Low Lunge
If you work in an office and spend a good chunk of your day sitting down in a chair, this pose will help stretch out those thighs, groin region, and hips flexors so you can relieve tension and prevent waking up in the morning with a tight hip.
This especially goes for people like me who are primary side sleepers.
- Start with one leg in front of the other and bend your front knee while you lower your back knee to the ground. If you start with your right leg first, make sure your right knee is over your right foot and vice versa.
- Rest your hands on the floor, on your knees, or upwards towards the sky.
- Open your chest, stretch your spine, and take five deep breaths.
- Switch legs and repeat.
5. Corpse Pose
Can you believe laying down is actually considered a yoga pose? It’s actually one of the best ones to do before bed once you finish with your other stretches, and it relaxes your mind rather than muscles.
The goal is to hopefully fall asleep by the end.
- Lay down in bed with your legs hip-distance apart.
- Keep your arms at your side with your palms facing up.
- Close your eyes, and simply focus on deep breathing.
Hold in corpse pose for five minutes, or until you doze off to sleep.
So are you ready to start sleeping more soundly? Ready to have a full night’s rest? These amazing stretches can help you do just that! Let’s get started!