Sleep is a vital part of a healthy mind and body. Getting a good night’s sleep enables the body to repair itself allowing you to wake up feeling rejuvenated and prepared to face the day.
Unfortunately, a lot of people across all ages struggle to get the rest that their bodies need. This is due to several factors such as illnesses, sleeping disorders and mental health issues. Insufficient sleep may cause long term problems if not taken care of.
For years, people have found several remedies for sleeping problems, from clinical medications to natural remedies such as essential oils and drinking teas. However, one unexpected and usually overlooked remedy is stretching.
Is Stretching Good for Sleep?
A study in 2019 shows that exercise, particularly resistance training and stretching, reduced the severity of insomnia among patients and helped improve their sleep quality.
Another study found that sedentary, postmenopausal women who stretch are less likely to take sleep medications and are less prone to have sleeping problems.
Gentle stretching helps you release built-up tension from a long day of work. This allows your mind to calm down and your body to enter a relaxed state, preparing you for a good rest.
Tips for Stretching
- Although stretching has been proven to have positive effects on sleeping, it is important to remember to do it moderately. As much as possible, avoid doing dynamic stretching and stick with static stretches (hold one position for 30 seconds or longer). Vigorous stretching before bedtime can stimulate and increase body temperature, making sleeping even harder.
- Make sure that you stretch only up to the point that is comfortable for you. Stretching should never be painful. If you start feeling discomfort, stop immediately.
- It is best to warm up before proceeding with your stretching poses or exercises as muscles stretch best when they are warmed up so. As simple as a hot shower will do the job.
Other Benefits of Stretching
- Stretching helps you execute your daily tasks and exercises safely and more efficiently as it keeps your muscles flexible. Doing dynamic stretching (stretching with motion) before a workout routine helps you increase your range of motion while static stretching (holding a position for long durations) after the routine aids with the recovery process of your muscles.
- Doing stretching exercises on a regular basis aligns and strengthens the muscles which help achieve good posture.
- Stretching promotes better blood circulation. This allows our muscles to get more oxygen and nutrients for better functioning.
Stretching Poses To Do Before Sleep
Interested in building a stretching routine for good sleep? Check out our list below for the best poses you can do at bedtime.
The Bear Hug stretch lessens the discomfort or soreness in the shoulder blades brought on by bad posture or frozen shoulders
To do this stretch, start in a standing position with a deep breath and with arms wide open. Exhale and then give yourself a hug by crossing your arms such that your right arm is over your left and vice versa.
Draw your shoulders forward with your hands and take a deep breath. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and release.
This popular yoga pose aids in easing neck, shoulder, and back discomfort. It's ideal for focusing on your breathing, unwinding, and lowering tension.
Start on your arms and knees with your arms extended in front of you and sit back on your heels. Hinging at your hips, walk your hands forward until your forehead rests on the floor and your upper body is nearly flat on the ground.
Relax and hold this position for at least 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch in your neck, shoulders, and spine. Once you climb in bed you will see how this stretch is good for sleeping.
Seated Forward Bend
This stretches your spine, shoulders, and hamstrings, as well as your lower back.
To do this stretch, sit on the floor and extend your legs together in front of you. Keeping your spine lengthened, fold forward and reach out your arms to your feet or as far as you can.
Tuck your chest to your chin and relax in this position for at least 30 seconds.
Legs Up The Wall
With this pose, people will feel stretched behind their knees and in the back of their thighs.
Lie down on your back and raise your legs straight against the wall. The back of your legs and your heels should be touching the wall but keep your knees relaxed and your feet parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a few minutes.
You should feel the stretch in your legs but if you start to feel discomfort or pain, stop immediately.
Another popular yoga pose, the cat-cow pose helps relieve tension in the lower back which usually results from sitting and standing for a long time.
Position yourself on the floor on your arms and knees. Make sure that your wrists are situated directly underneath your shoulders in a straight line and that your knees are below your hips.
Start arching your back by tightening your ab muscles and tucking your chin into your chest. This is the "cat" position. Hold this pose for about 10 seconds.
Next, let your stomach drop close to the floor. Make sure that your chest and tailbone have risen while your stomach is still dropped. This is the "cow" position. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
Is stretching good for sleep? Studies say yes and stretching can be a great way to relax and calm your mind before you go to bed. Just try it and see how it works for you. Try some of the stretches presented in this article and you will likely be able to fall asleep faster than ever before.
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