There are various tricks and methods for getting a better night’s sleep, this can be taking medication or setting the room at a specific temperature. However, there is a much simpler solution that people tend to leave out which is stretching.
Stretching is an excellent way to promote relaxation and reduce tension in the body. This is especially beneficial before bedtime, as loosening up your muscles will help calm your mind, thus making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
In this article, we will go through a series of stretches that can be performed by everyone no matter what fitness level you are at.
Kneel Lat Stretch Using Chair
Sitting for a prolonged time with bad posture can build up tension in your back.
To alleviate those symptoms this is a great movement to stretch out your lats and upper back muscles.
- Find a sturdy chair and kneel in front of it.
- Place both hands on the seat with your palms facing down.
- Hinge from your hips by shifting your hips towards your heels, to lower your upper body.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds and get back up.
- Repeat it another 2-3 more times.
Included a video here→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AaCcEI7dB0&t=1s
- Throughout the stretch, your back should be kept flat. So go low as you can without any roundness occurring.
- Make sure to engage your core muscles to support your lower back
- You should feel a gentle stretch in your lats and back. If you get any symptoms of pain, reposition yourself and try again slowly.
Low Lunge Stretch
The low lunge stretch is a yoga pose that primarily targets the hips, thighs, and groin.
As these movements also require some focus and balance, this will help improve your overall stability and reduce back pains.
- To get into position, place your right foot underneath your right knee, while kneeling on your left knee, just behind your hips.
- Place both hands on top of your front knee, or you can place them on the floor for added support.
- Slowly sink your weight onto your front knee to feel a nice stretch.
- Close your eyes and just relax while performing some deep breaths.
- Hold the position for 15-20 seconds and swap legs.
include a video here→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3h35B3aQj8
- Don’t twist your upper body, maintain a straight torso.
- Everyone’s anatomy is different, so play around with the foot placement to see what’s comfortable for you.
- Your front knee and toe should be aligned and stay pointing straight forward.
Towel Hamstrings Stretch
This is a type of passive stretching, which is great for improving your hamstring flexibility in a safe manner.
If tight hamstrings are left untreated they can lead to knee and back pains over time~ causing muscle tension and resulting in poor sleep.
- Sit down on a soft surface.
- Place a towel or a long piece of cloth behind your calf.
- While holding onto the towel slowly lay on your back.
- You can slightly bend your knee but preferably keeping them straight, pull the towel and bring your leg towards your chest.
- Go as far as you can and hold the position for 10-15 seconds~ then switch legs.
Include a video here→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5JO4Buyo3U
- If you have trouble grabbing onto the towel from your calf, you can instead place them on the back of the thigh.
- Keep your other foot planted on the ground, this will give you a bigger stretch.
- If possible try to point your toe toward your face, this will also help provide a better stretch.
Side To Side Neck Stretch
Looking down at your phone and computer for a prolonged period can gradually wear out your neck muscles.
So it’s important to stretch them out and train the muscles every night, to give those muscles a fresh start the next day.
- Sit on a chair with an upright position.
- Turn your head to one side as far as you possibly can without feeling any discomfort.
- Hold the position for 5-10 seconds and bring your head back to the neutral position.
- Repeat the motion on another side.
Include a video here→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eme0i13WgTk
- The only body part that should be moving is from the neck up, everything else should stay still.
- It’s important to point out that over-stretching them can have the opposite effect and strain out the muscles. It’s not about how far you can twist your head~ you can hold the position as soon as you feel a light stretch.
- Keep a nice tall posture on the chair.
Doorway Pec Stretch
Many people spend a lot of time sitting at desks or hunched over their laptops, which can lead to tight chest and shoulder muscles.
By stretching out your pecs, you can promote better posture and alleviate any discomfort or pain that may have been caused by sitting in this pose.
- Put one of your forearms on the side of your door frame with your elbows at 90 degrees.
- Place one foot in front of the other for balance.
- Lean your body forward until you feel a stretch on your shoulder and pec muscle.
- Hold for 10-15 seconds and switch arms
Include a video here→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaH0A4PhldQ
- You can also perform this exercise with two arms at the same time if your door frame is narrow enough.
- Unlike the other stretches, you might not feel any pain or discomfort if you end up overstretching, in fact, it might even feel good at the time. Therefore it’s vital not to over-exaggerate this movement.
- Maintain a neutral spine to prevent putting pressure on the lower back.
Standing Quadricep Stretch
Quadriceps are the muscles located on the front of your thighs.
It is also the largest muscle group on your leg, making it a significant player in determining your complete health.
- Stand In an open area with feet together.
- Lift your right heel towards your glutes and grab either your foot or ankle with your right hand.
- Gently pull your foot up till you feel a stretch on your front thigh.
- Hold for 20-25 seconds.
- Repeat the movement with your other leg.
Include a video here→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ob1tvmQUQZ0
- If you are struggling to balance, you can hold on to a wall or a chair for support.
- Engage your core muscles to prevent your back from sagging or arching.
- Don’t fully lock your standing knee, keep it relaxed and neutral.
Standing Calf Stretch
Calves can be forgotten about as they are located behind the body and out of our sight, however they should still be a priority when working out at home.
Tightness in your calf will affect other parts of your body such as your foot and knees.
Two muscles make up the calf~ the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Therefore you have to slightly tweak the exercise to stretch both of them.
- Stand on top of a step~ this can be a step of your stairs.
- Drop one of your heels down the step with your knees kept straight
- Hold the position for 15-20 seconds and switch leg
- This is to target your gastrocnemius
Now to hit your soleus, all you have to do is slightly bend your back knee. You should feel a stretch around your Achilles tendon.
Include a video here→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gqQcHJ9JEw
- Make sure to stretch out both of the calf muscles. For gastrocnemius, you should feel it near the back of the knee, and for soleus around the Achilles tendon.
- Calves are fast twitch muscles, so it would be beneficial to add some explosive movement as well, for example bouncing straight up after you feel a stretch rather than holding the position for 15-20 seconds.
- Your ankle can maneuver in different directions. You can take advantage of this by slightly leaning left and right to get a different sensation on your calves.
What Are The Benefits Of Stretching Before Bed?
Increase Your Blood Flow
Stretching helps to promote better blood circulation throughout the body by opening up blood vessels and overall improving blood flow to the muscles.
Some evidence has presented that with increased blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients are more readily available for vital organs such as the brain.
Thus your body can stay functioning properly while reducing potential issues that may arise from poor blood circulation and disturb your sleep.
Release Tension From Your Muscles
Various activities that you partake in throughout the day including sitting down, can cause muscles to stiffen up.
Having a great deal of tight muscles will make getting cozy in your bed and falling asleep difficult.
Since stretching increases blood circulation, this will help loosen up the muscles and alleviate any aches or pain.
Life is not all fun and games, our daily tasks can inflict pressure on our mental health and slowly build our stress levels up.
Stress can leave your mind running all night, and with a mind that cannot stop thinking, it’s near to impossible to try to get yourself to sleep.
Stretching reduces your stress levels by increasing the level of the hormone called serotonin. This is a relaxation hormone that puts you in a happier mood and calms your mind down.
Helps Muscle Recovery
If you are into fitness or have a physically demanding job, you are bound to get sore muscles once in a while.
Achy muscles can make laying down uncomfortable~ disturbing your sleep in the process.
The effects of both increased blood flow and relaxation of the muscles will aid in the recovery process.
How Close To Bedtime Should I Stretch?
Aim to stretch for 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed. This gives you the perfect window to wind down and prepare your body for sleep.
Is It Safe To Stretch Every Night?
Yes completely~ it’s not only beneficial for sleeping but for your whole physical health. It improves posture and increases the flexibility & range of motion of your joints.
Without frequent stretching, your muscles can become tight and weak~ putting you at a higher risk of injury.
What Types Of Stretches Are Not Suitable Before Bed?
All stretches are great for the body, however one type that may not be suitable at night time would be the dynamic stretch.
This is because it involves big movements which will raise your heart rate. So rather than relaxing your body, this can wake it up instead.
Stretching can be a simple but an effective tool for promoting quality sleep.
Gentle stretches will encourage muscle relaxation and relieve any tensions that may be present.
It also provides other benefits like reducing physical discomfort, reducing stress levels, and increasing flexibility.
It’s important to make sure every stretch is performed under control. Never force a stretch further than what your body permits because this can lead to muscle tears and injuries.
Furthermore, if you are suffering from any underlying health conditions, talk with your healthcare professional before starting any exercises, just to confirm it will not cause any harm to your body.
About the Author
Hey, my name is kevin and I am all about spreading positive information about living a healthy life. Leading a healthy life does not need to be complicated, there are plenty of easy methods that fit everyone. I share health & fitness topics over on my website raikevin.com~ feel free to check them out.