So many of us spend the day sitting while we type away at the computer or talk on the phone. Once the daytime work is done, then it is time to relax by sitting and watching TV or gaming. Americans on average spend at least 13 hours every day sitting. It is surprising how little people move around, let alone stretch.
This lack of daily mobility can lead to sleep issues. While sitting can be relaxing, it can also mean there is pent-up energy from lack of motion. People end up in bed feeling restless and wound up even though they were busy during the day.
The reason for this restlessness is that muscles need to be moving so they have good circulation and health. Sitting at a desk and in front of a computer all day, working at checkout, or sitting in traffic for long periods of time means that the muscles are going to be tense and ache due to lack of attention.
To stave off the issues of restlessness at bedtime, doing stretches before bed can help release any tension that has built up in the muscles and relax your body and mind so sleep will come faster and with some depth. While many tend to wake up and stretch or do it before and after intense workouts, doing it before bed has many benefits as well.
=> Discover 101 yoga poses here (with instructions)
Stretching Before Bed
There are many benefits of stretching before heading to bed. The obvious one is that the body gets a slight workout and feels healthy, but it also can help calm the mind as well.
Creating a routine that is not too intense for an evening stretch will assist in getting the body to enjoy a state of relaxation more quickly. It will help it stay in deep sleep longer. Stretching can reduce pain in the lower and upper back as well as the neck and shoulders. With less pain, there is reduced tossing and turning so it will help both you and your partner sleep better.
Another benefit that evening stretching will offer is that it can take the place of the nighttime screen activity. Rather than wandering through social media or answering emails and texts, a good stretching routine can wind down the day.
Studies repeatedly show that doing yoga or having a good stretching routine can increase relaxation, and be calming and meditative. It is time to focus on the mind and body and your feelings rather than interacting with social media posts. It can reduce the feeling of stress from the day and allow your subconscious to relax and let go of worries.
If sleep issues are problematic, they can affect both mental and physical health. Doing mindful stretching can help with that as well as reducing stress and signs of aging. Stress has been shown to affect the body’s cells, so reducing stress before going to bed can help you look and feel younger.
Work on this stretching routine to be able to relax your whole body before bedtime:
Knee to Chest
This stretch needs a little bit of room but is great to help with spinal flexibility as well as reducing aches and pains in the lower back. It can be done on the floor or mattress. Lay on your back and lift a leg. Bend that leg at the knee. Hold the raised knee with your hands and gently pull it to the chest. It is important to stay relaxed and not force the knee too far.
Hold this position for 10 seconds and release. Do the same for the other leg. Do not raise the head and shoulders off the floor. They can stay neutral and be in a position that is comfortable and relaxing. Once you are at ease doing each leg once at a time, you can begin to work with both legs at the same time. Remember to inhale and exhale properly while doing this.
This is a good stretch to follow the knee to the chest. It will increase spinal mobility and work to improve poor posture gained from sitting down all day. Continue to lie down on your back as in the first stretch but now stretch both arms out to the sides. You should be lying in a T position. Lift the right knee while putting the right foot flat on the floor.
Gently and slowly bring the right leg over the left. The foot goes across as well. Once the right side is over, let it drop naturally to the floor. Feel free to use the left hand to hold the right knee but do not overdo the stretch. Everything is natural and should only go to a point of comfort. If you want to do a deeper stretch, turn your head to the right while the leg is over the other side. Remember to breathe in and out and be conscious of your spine relaxing. Change sides and repeat.
While the goal of stretching is relaxation and good sleep, this stretch will also help work on your obliques and spine. Regular side stretches will strengthen your core which can help with day-to-day posture as well as lower back pain. There are two ways to begin. You can either be seated with legs crossed or sitting on your heels. Both are fine. Bring the left arm straight up so it is over your head.
Put your right arm leaning on the floor. This can be your hand or forearm depending on how flexible you are. Do not overdo the stretch. Once you have put the right arm on the floor, then keep your left arm over your ear with fingertips up. You can reach over if you wish but make sure you are comfortable. This stretch is adjustable according to your abilities.
This stretch is great for the lower body. It works well whether you have been sitting all day or active and busy. The lunge targets the glutes, hamstrings as well as hip flexors. This stretch is adaptable and can be done from either a standing or kneeling position. Put one foot in front of your body and bend into a lunge from the hips.
You can use the opposite knee to carry some of the weight if needed. If balance is an issue, then use a wall or other prop for support. Make sure that your focus is on breathing and keeping the spine straight and the chest open. Hold as you are comfortable and then change sides.
Gently transition to a sitting position for this stretch. It is going to target the inner thigh and lower back. Being with legs and feet pointing straight out in front. Pull the soles of your feet up and place them touching each other. Toes to toes and heel to heel.
Pull your feet to your body as you lean forward at the hips. The goal is to keep the spine straight as this is done. Do not push yourself down, simply go as far as it is natural, and you can feel a gentle pull in the inner thigh. Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds so the stretch is deeper. It can be repeated as you wish.
This stretch is extremely comfortable and relaxing. It will help if you have tension in the shoulders and neck, as well as stretching your back. Move from sitting to being on your hands and knees. Knees should be hip-width apart. Sit back so your buttocks are on your heels and stretch your arms out to the front.
Put your hands on the floor and walk them forward so your chest is almost flat on the floor. Drop your head gently to the floor as well. Think about your spine being long and stretched. Relax and enjoy the position. If your shoulders are not comfortable, then your arms can also be at your sides once your head is down. Hold and gently walk your hands back up until you are straight again.
A little self-appreciation is always nice, but you can also stretch your shoulders, rhomboids and trapezius muscles with this stretch. Stand straight up and stretch arms wide to the sides then bring them in around yourself like a big hug.
Hold your shoulders and pull to make the stretch deeper. Only go as far as you are comfortable. Inhale and exhale for 30 seconds then let it go. When you release, open your arms wide and change which arm is on top.
Legs up the Wall
The perfect end to a night stretching routine. Improves circulation and helps restlessness. Lay on one side with your legs and buttocks against a wall. Gently turn on your back while lifting your legs.
Now you will have them straight up the wall. Allow your hips to relax and focus on smooth, deep breathing. This stretch can be held for up to 15 minutes. Use a pillow under your hips if you want some extra support. Do everything thing with specific intent and focus on the stress falling away.