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Stretching Before Going to Bed: Seven Easy Stretches That Can Improve Your Sleep Quality

Many people who are looking to improve their quality of sleep, or those who find themselves in pain when they wake up, may look to things like medications, essential oils, or other products for help. While there are a number of home remedies that can help improve your sleep quality and sleep-related pain, such as certain herbal teas, many people are quick to overlook the simple act of stretching as a possible solution.

And on some level, that skepticism isn’t surprising. Stretching your muscles is often associated with activities such as running, working out, yoga, or other physical activities that require strenuous physical exertion. What stretching is not typically associated with, however, is sleep.

If you find yourself alongside the majority of Americans, then you may be sitting for nearly 10 hours a day, which can bring with it a host of chronic conditions such as lower back pain and an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.

While stretching before a workout has its benefits, there is also a lot of research that points towards a healthy relationship between stretching and sleeping.

How Stretching Before Before Going to Bed Can Help

How Stretching Before Before Going to Bed Can Help

When you sleep, it is the only time your body is truly in a state of complete relaxation. When you are lying in bed, you aren’t using any of your muscles or joints to help support your body weight, which helps relax and ease the stress placed on your muscles and joints throughout the day.

But the benefits of stretching go beyond muscle relaxation. In fact, research indicates that stretching can have significant mental benefits as well.

Stretching can help focus your attention on your body and help you understand where you may be building up stress or muscle tension throughout the day. It can also help you focus more on your breathing, as stretching or other meditative movements can help develop a sense of mindfulness, which can help improve your quality of sleep, according to one study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

A joint 2016 study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews found that meditative movements such as yoga could improve overall sleep quality. The study, conducted by scientists from both China and the United States, found that the improved sleep quality they observed also correlated with an increased overall quality of life.

Stretching before going to bed can also have significant physical benefits, such as reducing cramps and muscle spasms, which can plague people with pain-related insomnia.

How to Stretch Before Going to Bed

The important thing to remember when stretching, no matter what time of day, is to not overdo it. Simple, light stretching for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes will be enough to help reduce pain and improve sleep quality.

To start, make sure that you incorporate stretching into your nightly routine. Try to do them at roughly the same time each night, and it helps to pick a place to do them where you won’t have to worry about being distracted or disturbed.

Although your inclination may be to stretch right before bed, this may not be the best idea. Stretching should not be the last thing you do every night, as waiting until the last minute can result in skipping out on nights when you may feel overly tired. Try to stretch anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed.

Remember, stretching before going to bed is not the same as stretching before running or going to the gym. The goal is to gently stretch and extend your muscles, not to warm them up before strenuous exercise.

Seven Stretches to Do Before Going to Bed

Below are seven easy, light stretches you can do before going to bed to help reduce sleep-related pain and improve your overall quality of sleep.

Child’s Pose Stretch

Child’s Pose Stretch

The child’s pose stretch, also referred to as Balansana, is a popular yoga resting posture that can help stretch various parts of your body including the lower back, hips, and thighs. The child’s pose stretch can be a great stretch for relieving lower back pain.

  1. Lower yourself down to your hands and knees, and slowly lower your butt to your feet.
  2. Hold for 30 seconds
  3. Return to your hands and knees and repeat three times.

90-Degree Doorway Stretch

If you sit at your desk for long periods, or if you suffer from conditions like scoliosis or chronic lower back pain, you are no stranger to pain related to poor back posture. The assisted chest stretch can help stretch your pectoral (chest) and anterior deltoid (front shoulder) muscles.

This doorway stretch can help fix poor posture, and relieve upper back pain.

  1. Stand in an open doorway, with both arms raised at a 90-degree angle and your palms facing forwards.
  2. Place your forearms flat against each side of the doorframe and step forward with one foot.
  3. Lean forward until you feel a slight stretch in the front of your chest and shoulders.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat two to three times.

Bear Hug

The bear hug stretch targets the rhomboids and trapezius muscles, which are found in the upper back. It can help reduce pain caused by poor posture, shoulder injuries, or muscle spasms. The bear hug stretch is a great way to reduce muscle tension in your upper back and shoulders, which can help relax your body and promote better sleep.

  1. From a standing position, open your arms out wide and inhale as you do so.
  2. Cross your arms, placing one over the other, and hug yourself.
  3. As you hug yourself, breathe deeply and use your hands to pull your shoulders forward.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Release your arms back out to your sides.
  6. Repeat two to three times, alternating which arm is over the other each time.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

The knee-to-chest stretch can help restore flexibility in your lower back muscles, which can be great for improving mobility and reducing pain. It can also help relax the muscles in your hips and glutes, and subsequently open up the muscles in your upper back, neck, and shoulders.

  1. Lying on your back, bring your right knee up, holding it with both hands.
  2. Gently pull your knee towards your chest until you feel a slight stretch.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat two to three times with both knees, alternating between each side.

Spinal Twist Stretch

Spinal Twist Stretch

It may not sound particularly pleasant, but the spinal twist is a gentle, low-stress stretch that can help improve both spinal mobility and poor posture. It is a great way to open up the muscles surrounding your spine, both upper and lower, and can also help reduce stiffness in your hips, neck, or chest.

  1. Lying on your back, extend both arms out to your sides.
  2. Slowly cross your right leg over to your left and let it fall naturally to the floor.
  3. If you want a deeper stretch, turn your head in the opposite direction.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds
  5. Repeat two to three times, switching sides each time.

Legs Up Against The Wall Stretch

Legs Up Against The Wall Stretch

The legs up against the wall stretch functions much the same way as standing or sitting and touching your toes, however, the point of this exercise is to take the tension off your hips and legs rather than stretch them out. This stretch can be a great way to improve circulation in your legs and feet and reduce pain associated with restless leg syndrome.

  1. Lying on your back, slowly lift your legs so they extend vertically against the wall.
  2. Release the tension in your hips, and place your arms in a comfortable position at your side.
  3. Remain in this position for up to 15 minutes.

Seated Side Stretch

Seated Side Stretch

The seated side stretch, also known as the seated side bend, is a common yoga pose that stretches the back, shoulders, neck, and oblique muscles. It can also be used as a way to promote healthy breathing techniques, which can help improve your sleep quality. The seated side bend is also great for promoting flexibility, spine health, and a stronger core.

  1. From a seated position, raise your arms above your head.
  2. Keeping your left arm in the air, place your right arm on the floor and lean towards it.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat two to three times, switching sides each time.

Stretching before going to bed can be a great way to not only improve your overall quality of sleep, but also to help reduce aches and pains and help you get your mornings off to a better start.

What Stretches Do You Do Before Going to Bed?

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