Stretching before bed is one of the most effective ways to release any built-up tension and help you get a good night’s sleep. Most of us know stretching before and after exercise, during the morning hours; but there are also a lot of reasons why it is good to stretch before bed too. Read further to explore some of the best stretches to do before bed.
Benefits of Stretching Before Bed:
Before we talk about the best stretches to do before bed, let us know the benefits of stretching before bed.
Most Americans on average spend 13 hours a day sitting.(1) Desk jobs, sitting on the cars while traveling, watching television, and many other things make us sit more often than one thinks. So, it is obvious that while you are getting into your bed at the night, you start feeling restless and find it hard to relax.
For proper blood circulation and good health, your muscles require some activity; and if you are simply sitting in front of your computer or stuck in traffic, you will need to relax your aching muscles at the end of the day.
But why is stretching before bed so helpful? The benefits of stretching before bed could help offer you better sleep. Apart from getting regular exercise through stretching, it also offers many perks for your mind and body. This helps in better sleep.
For beginners, developing a routine of stretching in the evening or before bed helps your body to quickly relax and remain in a deeper sleep for longer.
Studies have shown that practices, such as stretching and yoga when done correctly, can be incredibly relaxing and meditative.(2) For people who are more concerned with their beauty sleep, studies show that mindful stretching when done regularly, reduces various signs of aging.(3) It has been proven that stress affects aging on a cellular level. So stretching before bed can reduce stress and help you look younger and live longer.
14 Best Stretches To Do Before Bed:
Along with various natural sleep remedies, such as diffusing essential oils or drinking chamomile tea, stretching before bed could also be beneficial for better sleep. Stretching before bed might help you fall asleep quickly and also improve your sleep quality.
As per a review of studies done in the year 2016, it has been found that there is a link between meditative movements (like yoga and tai chi) and improved quality of sleep.(4) This improved quality of sleep was further associated with better life quality.
But why stretching positively affects our sleep? It is probably a mix of many things.
Say, for instance, getting in touch with our body with some stretches helps us to focus our attention on our breath and body. This awareness of the body helps in developing mindfulness, which has been shown to aid in promoting better sleep.(5)
Moreover, stretching also provides significant physical benefits, thus helping to relieve muscle tension and also prevent sleep-disrupting cramps. Simply be sure to stick only to gentle stretches before bed, as doing heavy or big workouts before bedtime can negatively affect your body.
Below are some of the best stretches to do before bed.
Sphinx Pose or Salamba Bhujangasana:
Sphinx Pose offers you a great stretch for your lower back and provides you benefits in relieving any pain or discomfort when done before bed.
To do this, lie on your stomach with the legs straight out behind you. Now, lift your chest off the floor while placing your elbows under your shoulders and forearms on the ground. Press your things and hips into the ground and think about lengthening the spine while keeping the shoulders relaxed. Sit up simply enough to feel a stretch in your lower back. Make sure not to hyperextend, and immediately stop if you start feeling any pain or discomfort. Hold this for 30-60 seconds.
The Bear bug is a stretch that works the trapezius and rhomboids muscles present in your upper back. This stretch helps in alleviating shoulder bland pain or discomfort that occurs due to poor posture, frozen shoulder, or bursitis.
For doing this stretch, stand up tall and inhale as you widely open your arms out. As you cross your arms exhale, placing the right arm over the left arm and the left arm over the right as if you are giving a high to yourself. As you use your hands to draw your shoulders forward, breathe deeply. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds and then release. To release, inhale to open your arms back open wide. Then, exhale and repeat with the left arm on the top.
Thread The Needle:
“Thread the Needle” is also a stretch that can be done before bed too.
To do this stretch begin on all fours with your hands placed under your shoulders and your hips over the knees. Now, reach the right arm underneath and across the body by keeping your palm facing up. Then, bend the left elbow as you lean gently into your right side. Here, you must feel a stretch in your back of the right shoulder. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat the same on the alternative side.
Kneeling Lat Stretch:
This is a stretch that aids to loosen up the muscles in your shoulders and back and it helps to relieve any pain and discomfort.
To do this stretch, be in a kneeling position in front of a stable chair, low table, or couch. Make sure that your knees remain directly under your hips. For extra support, you can place a cushion or a blanket. As you hinge at your hips to fold forward while resting the forearms on the surface, lengthen your spine. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat this 1-3 times.
Some neck stretches can also be done before bed. These neck stretches will help you in relieving tension in your neck, head, and shoulders. Make sure that you are focusing on maintaining proper posture while doing these stretches.
Neck Stretch No 1:
At first, sit comfortably on a chair and take your right hand to your head’s top or the left ear. Now, bring your right ear gently towards your right shoulder and hold this position for 5 breaths. Repeat the same on the alternative side, Turn and look over your right shoulder and hold this position for 5 breaths. Repeat this on the other side.
Neck Stretch No 2:
For doing this neck stretch, drop down your chin to the chest, and hold it for 5 breaths. Then, return to a neutral position and let your head fall back gently for 5 breaths.
This stretches your thighs, hips, and groin. Opening up your chest helps to relieve pain and tension in this area and also in your shoulders and back. Make sure you remain relaxed while doing this pose and not push yourself too hard.
For doing the stretch, at first, come into a low lunge by placing your right foot below the right knee and left leg extended back, keeping the left knee on the floor. Get your hands to the floor beneath the shoulders, on your knees, or right up towards your room’s ceiling. Deeply breathe in, focusing on lengthening the spine and opening your chest. Here, you should feel the line of energy that extends out via your head’s crown. Hold this pose for at least 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
This is a resting stretch and can be done before bed. This pose is perfect for tuning into your breath, reducing stress, and relaxing your body. The Child’s pose also helps in relieving tension and pain in your shoulders, neck, and back.
For doing this stretch, sitting on your heels, come down on your knees. Now, hinge at your hips to fold forwards and then rest the forehead on the floor. For supporting your neck, extend your arms in front of you or get them alongside your body. While you are holding this pose, breathe deeply, while bringing your awareness to any area of pain, tightness, or discomfort in your back. You should hold this pose for at least 5 minutes. Just to give your body a rest, you can also include this pose in between other stretches that you do before bed.
This is another stretch that can be done before bed. The Supine twist could help you relax and relieve any pain and discomfort.
To do this stretch, lie on your back on the floor and hug your knees into the chest and then drop bot your knees over to a side as you twist your torso in the other direction. Make sure your knees and hips are in line with each other as you draw them towards the floor. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Seated Forward Bend:
“Seated forward bend” stretch helps in loosening up your spine, hamstrings, and shoulders. This stretch also stretches your lower back.
To do this, sit down on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Slightly engage your abdominal to lengthen the spine, while pressing your sit bones into the ground. Hinge at your hips and fold forward, reaching out your arms right in front of you. Now, relax your head and tuck your chin into the chest. Hold this pose for 5 minutes.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose:
This is a relaxing hip opener that can help in relieving muscle tension in the groin and hips, which is good for you if you spend most of the daytime sitting.
To do the stretch, sit on the floor and get the soles of your feet closer to each other. Then, lean back on your hands to bring your neck, head, and back to the floor. For extra support, you can place pillows or cushions under your head or knees. Make sure that you are placing your arms in any comfortable position. Breathe deeply and focus on relaxing your thighs and hips. Hold this pose for around 10 minutes.
Side stretch is another stretch to be done at the night before bed. This is a great stretch to do before bed because it stretches the spine, obliques, and also strengthens your core for a better and stronger spine.
Sit either on your heels or be seated with your legs crossed, and extend your left arm right above your head. Place the right arm on the floor while you lean your body to the right. Make sure you keep your left arm above your ear. With this, you can feel a stretch on your left side. Repeat it on the alternate side.
This stretch is an excellent stretch that helps you achieve great spinal flexion and it is also a wonderful stretch for aching lower back.
To do the “Knee-to-chest stretch”, lie on your back by extending both your legs straight. Pull your right knee into the chest, while making sure that your left leg is kept straight and your lower back pressed into the floor. Here, hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat on the alternate side.
Butterfly pose is great for stretching your lower back and inner thighs. This could be one of the best stretches to do before bed.
To do this, sit on the floor with the legs straight in front of you and bring your feet soles together. As you lean forward, bring your feet towards your body, while keeping your spine as straight as you can. To deepen the stretch, remain in this pose for a few moments.
This is a restorative pose and helps in reducing tension in your neck, shoulders, and back while promoting relaxation. You can also do this stretch before bed to be relaxed and have a good night’s sleep.
To do this stretch, find a wall and sit with the right side of your body placed against a wall. Lie on the back as you start swinging your legs up against the wall. You can place a cushion under your hips for better support. Your arms can be placed in any comfortable position. Stay in this pose for 10 minutes.
Try these stretches before bed daily and enjoy the benefits of a good night’s sleep and improved life. However, make sure that if you suffer from any diseased conditions or painful joints or muscles, consult with your doctor before doing any stretch.