Unwind prior to bed for a more restful night's sleep!
You get in bed after a looonnnggg day. You've been looking forward to this moment for hours. But, as you try to close your eyelids, you find them fluttering right back open again. All of a sudden, you are wide awake. Tired, but wired.
Have you been struggling with nights like these lately? It's becoming more and more common for people to finally fling themselves into bed at night only to stare at the ceiling and the ticking clock.
One of the ways you can help yourself transition from go-go-go to sleep-sleep-sleep is by giving yourself a calming bedtime routine. Just like babies need a bedtime routine to help them unwind from the day, our bodies could also use some help.
What better way than literally unwinding your tense body with some relaxing stretches? Below are five stretches to perform every night before bed. Take your time and spend at least 30 seconds in each stretch. This will give your body time to relax into the stretch and your thoughts and breathing time to slow down.
Child's pose is a common in-between pose in yoga when people need to pause, find their breath, and then slowly work their way back into the flow.
It's a stretch that calms your brain by increasing circulation, eases tension in the lower back, and relieves stress as you quiet your thinking and breathing.
1. Come down to your knees and sit back on your heels.
2. Slowly roll forward and place your forehead on to your mat (or as close as you can get it).
3. You can either extend your arms forward and past your head (like the photo below) or reach them behind you, towards your ankles.
4. Breathe into this stretch for at least 30 seconds, preferably longer. If you feel any areas of tightness, sway your hips side to side slowly.
The low lunge mainly stretches your hips, thighs, and groin. Secondarily, you will open up your chest and breathing passageways as you stretch up and out of your spine. You will be able to decompress from the day and find more space to breathe into your upper and lower body.
1. Place your right foot directly below your right knee and extend your left foot back behind you. Keep your left knee on the ground.
2. Place your hands on either side of your right foot and center your chest, shoulders, and neck above your knee.
3. Remain here and breathe into the stretch or move your hands slightly above your right knee and press your upper body back. Feel free to float your hands above your head and arch your back in a way that feels comfortable. This will help open up your hips while also stretching your abdominal muscles and strengthening your lower back.
4. Make sure to not fall into your hips during this stretch, but to lengthen out of them. You can also sway side to side in this pose to release any tension build-up in the hips or knees.
5. Repeat on your left side.
This stretch inverts almost every action you have done all day. Standing, sitting, walking, running, etc. Instead of having your head always above your feet, you will position your feet above your head. This boosts and refreshes the circulation in your upper body, alleviates swelling in the ankles, and reduces tension in the lower back.
1. Sit on the ground facing a wall.
2. Lie down on your back and you raise your legs up to the ceiling, heels against the wall.
3. Once you are in this position, you can reposition your hips for maximum comfort. You might want them closer to the wall or farther away. Scoot in whichever way that works best for your body.
4. Breathe deeply and stay in this position for at least 2 minutes.
The knee-to-chest stretch releases your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes, which increases your flexibility and range of motion for tomorrow and soothes pain and stiffness for a more relaxed night's sleep tonight. You can perform it with one leg at a time or pull both of your knees in at the same time.
1. Lie on your back with both legs extended out.
2. Pull your knees up and in, toward your chest. Either place your hands underneath your knees and hold on to your thighs or move your arms above your legs and hug your knees in (like the photo below).
3. Make sure your lower back stays pressed against the mat at all times. If this is not possible, then loosen your grip around your legs until it becomes possible.
4. Hold still, maybe sway side to side, and remember to breathe.
This gentle stretch eases your body into a backbend. The small arching movement strengthens your spine and (bonus!) your glutes as they work to stabilize you. You will also feel an opening in your chest and abdominal muscles that allows you to breathe more deeply than you have all day.
1. Lie down on your stomach with your legs extended behind you. Place your elbows directly below your shoulders and your forearms and hands straight in front of your elbows.
2. Slowly push up from your elbows and lift your chest off the floor. Arch back enough to feel a stretch through your abs, but not too much that it becomes uncomfortable for your back.
3. As you stretch up, push your hips into the floor. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and sway a little side to side to release any tension.