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In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, it can be easy to overlook the importance of taking care of yourself and taking time to relax. However, incorporating just a few minutes of stretching into your bedtime routine can offer many benefits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans isn’t getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. The National Sleep Foundation also suggests that your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, which is why it recommends doing something relaxing before bed.
By incorporating a pre-sleep stretching routine, you can easily fall asleep and enjoy a more restful night’s sleep. This article will delve into six stretches to do before bed, tips for getting the most out of your pre-sleep stretching routine, and other pre-sleep activities that can help you unwind and prepare for sleep.
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Incorporate Stretching into Your Bedtime Routine
One of the best ways to incorporate stretching into your bedtime routine is to set aside a few minutes before you go to bed to perform a series of stretches.
You can do them in your bedroom or any other quiet, comfortable space. By making stretching a part of your nightly routine, you’ll be more likely to stick with it and reap the benefits over time.
Why These Stretches Are So Great Before Bed?
Stretching before bed is a great way to help you relax and sleep better. It can make your muscles less tense and stiff, which can help you have a more restful sleep. The stretches listed in the article focus on different parts of your body, like your chest, shoulders, back, hamstrings, and hips. They are done slowly and gently, so you don’t over-stretch and hurt yourself.
When you stretch before bed, it can help your body get ready for sleep. This means you can fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly. By taking deep breaths and focusing on your muscles, you can feel calm and reduce your worries.
6 Stretches That Are Perfect For Doing Before Bed
1. Door Frame Stretch
- Begin by standing in front of your doorway with your arms at your sides.
- Raise your arms to shoulder height, forming a “goal post” shape with your elbows bent and your palms facing forward.
- Gently place your arms against the sides of the doorway, keeping them at shoulder height.
- Slowly lean forward, pressing gently against the doorway. You will feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, taking slow, deep breaths to help you relax.
- Release the stretch and repeat twice, taking care to move slowly and mindfully to avoid overstretching.
2. Back Opener
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and facing the back of a chair.
- Place your hands on the backrest of the chair, with your fingers pointing down.
- Hinge forward at your hips and lower your body towards the chair. Try to aim for a 90-degree angle, but don’t push yourself too far if you’re feeling tight.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds, feeling a gentle stretch in your hamstrings, back, and shoulders.
- Repeat this movement 10 times, taking care to move slowly and mindfully.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
- Begin in a half-kneeling position with one foot forward and the other knee on the ground.
- Slowly shift your weight forward while keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
4. Upper Trap Chair Stretch
- Begin in an upright position, either sitting or standing.
- You’ll be stretching one side of the neck at a time.
- If you plan to stretch the left upper trapezius muscle, bend your head to the right.
- Take your right hand and place it on the left side of the head to give a gentle overpressure into the stretch.
- Hold at least 30 seconds and repeat 3 times
- Slowly release the pressure and return to your starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
5. Seated Hamstring Stretch
- Seated in a chair, place the leg to be stretched and extended in front of you (the knee should be straight).
- Keeping a straight back, bend forward via hinging at the hips.
- Once you feel a tolerable stretch behind the back of the leg, hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat 3 times
6. Piriformis Stretch
- Lay on your back on your floor, bed, or couch.
- Bend both knees, so the feet are flat on the surface.
- Cross the leg to be stretched over the opposite thigh so that it’s fully resting on that leg.
- Take the opposite hand and place it on the outside of the thigh on the leg to be stretched.
- Gently pull the thigh towards the opposite hip (avoid allowing the hip and/or back to lift off the surface).
- Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Pre-Sleep Stretching Routine
To get the most out of your pre-sleep stretching routine, keep the following tips in mind:
A. Stretch slowly and mindfully, taking deep breaths and focusing on the muscles you’re working.
B. Focus on your breath, inhaling deeply as you stretch and exhaling as you release the stretch.
C. Don’t over-stretch. Stretching should feel good, not painful. If you feel any discomfort, ease up on the stretch or skip it altogether.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Stretching Before Bed
When stretching before bed, there are a few common mistakes to avoid:
- Skipping the warm-up: It’s essential to warm up before stretching to prevent injury.
- Stretching too aggressively: Over-stretching can cause injury and increase muscle tension.
- Holding stretches for too long: Holding stretches for too long can also lead to injury.
Other Pre-Sleep Activities That Can Help You Relax and Prepare for Sleep
In addition to stretching, there are a few other pre-sleep activities that can help you relax and prepare for sleep:
A. Meditation: Taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness or meditation can help calm your mind and ease anxiety.
B. Reading: Reading a book or magazine can help distract you from the stress of the day and prepare your mind for sleep.
C. Taking a warm bath or shower: A warm bath or shower can help relax your muscles and soothe your mind, making it easier to fall asleep.
Incorporating stretching into your bedtime routine can offer numerous benefits, including reducing muscle tension, promoting relaxation, and improving flexibility. Following the tips and exercises outlined in this article, you can create a pre-sleep stretching routine that helps you unwind and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Remember to stretch slowly and mindfully, focus on your breath, and avoid over-stretching. And remember to consider other pre-sleep activities, such as meditation, reading, or a warm bath, to help you relax and get the most out of your bedtime routine.