Sleep Better By Stretching Before Bed
After a long day at work, we know you are beyond tired. All you want is to brush your teeth and fall into bed. We get it, but first: stretch. Why? Because stretching before bed allows your muscles to ease any stress-induced tension from your office job so that you sleep better.
Is It Good To Stretch Before Bed?
The simplest answer: yes!
“Stretching can be beneficial for athletic performance and exercise, but many people don’t think to incorporate it before bedtime,” says Lizzie Brooks, E-RYT in Austin, Texas. “Stretching before bed has been shown to provide a whole host of benefits, including a reduction in muscle cramping, improved relaxation, and higher quality sleep.”
Remember to breathe while you stretch before you sleep. “Gentle stretching sends relief to tight muscles. The key here is gentle. Over-stretching can actually make the muscle tighter! The more attention you place on slow, steady breathing while doing the stretches, the more beneficial the entire experience will be,” says Brooks.
Examples of Stretches to do Before Bed
Set your body up for a great night’s rest with simple stretches that ease pain and allow you to slow down your mind and body. You can put together a series of bedtime-ready poses, like the ones below, for the ultimate relaxing experience.
1. Seated Neck Stretch
Because the average adult human head weighs 10 pounds, you may feel stiff in your neck and shoulders. Why? Because your neck holds your head high all day, every day. It’s no wonder you feel sore or have a crick in your neck at the end of a busy day. If you are nodding your head in agreement, then; stretch your neck muscles out with some gentle neck stretches.
- Sit comfortably in an easy seat on the edge of your bed or the floor. Cross your legs and sit up tall. Relax your hands on your thighs or rest them on the floor next to you.
- Draw your right ear down toward your right shoulder. You have the option to draw your chin forward and back to lengthen the muscles on the left side of your neck.
- Pull your head back to the center and lower your left ear to your left shoulder.
- Come back through the center—option to circle your head. Starting on the right, move in a clockwise motion. Repeat in a counterclockwise movement when you are ready.
2. Hand-to-Wrist Lat Stretch
While this is the quintessential good morning stretch, it is very appropriate goodnight stretch, too. (Yawning while stretching is allowed!)
- Begin in an easy seat.
- Take a deep breath and reach your arms overhead.
- Clasp your left wrist in your right hand.
- As you exhale, compress your body to the right (flexing your right-side oblique muscles). Feel a stretch from your left hip to your left wrist. Keep your hips down as your stretch.
- Come back through the center and swap out your grip and lean to the left.
If you want to stretch your upper back, clasp your hands in front of you with straight arms. Tuck your chin into your chest and push your palms away from your body as you round your spine.
3. Chest and Pec Stretch (Cactus Arms)
We live in a world where sitting hunched over a computer all day is the norm. Answering our emails is giving us bad posture. As our shoulder round forward, our chest muscles get tight. Stretch out your chest and counter bad habits made by your addiction to technology.
- From a seated position, abduct your arms away from your sides (into a “T”).
- Bend your elbows and turn your palms forward (like a cactus or a football goal post).
- Hold your arms high and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together and opening your chest. Option for a gentle backbend with goal post arms, lean back and open your collar bones to the ceiling. Keep your elbows in-line with your shoulders.
- Come back through the center and release your hands to your sides.
4. Supine Psoas Stretch
We recommend doing the last few stretches in this bedtime series lying down. We love this stretch because it stretches your hips and your quads (the front of your thighs).
- Lie down on your back. Bend your knees planting the soles of your feet flat on the floor. It is the same starting position you’d use to do a bridge pose.
- Slide the front of your right foot behind your left heel.
- Keep your right food behind your heel and lower your right knee to the floor.
- Reach your left arm long and hold your right foot in your left hand.
- Externally rotate your right thigh to the right to open your hip. You should feel a stretch on the front of your right thigh, too.
- Hold for a few long breaths.
- Repeat on the left side.
5. Happy Baby
Yogis love this pose because it releases back tension and opens your hips—pure bliss!
- Lie down on your back.
- Hug your knees to your chest. Reach your arms between your thighs and take hold of your feet, ankles, or calves.
- Lower your knees toward your armpits. Compress your tailbone down.
- Rock from side to side—like you were a baby in a crib.
6. Supine Twist
A gentle twist is a perfect way to end your day and get prepared for sleep.
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Stretch your arms out to the sides in a “T” shape or bend at your elbows (cactus arms) if you don’t have enough space for straight arms.
- Draw your knees to your chest. Keep your tailbone on the mat.
- Let your knees fall to the right side of your body.
- Press both of your shoulders to the floor (or into the bed) and stack your hips. It’s ok if your back cracks.
- Adjust your knees and hips as needed to you can breathe comfortably. You have the open to to turn your head to the left(opposite direction) to compete the twist in you spine as your knees stay to the right.
- Stay here for a few breaths before repeating on the left side.