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Whenever I gently stretch before bed I notice that I sleep better. It  calms my body and mind and I fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. One reason for this is mindfulness. Studies have shown that mindfulness can help to improve sleep. Stretching helps us focus on our breath and our body steering us away from the stressors of the day. Stretching can also help relieve muscle tension from working all day, promoting better sleep. 

When stretching before bed do what feels right and keep it gentle. For most people a rigorous workout before bed can keep you awake.  If it doesn’t feel good, find another stretch that works for you. Always check with your doctor before starting any new stretching routine.

Some of my favorite bedtime stretches include:

The Bear hug 

I recommended stretching before bed for a client and he loves this stretch and says it really helps him quiet his mind, fall asleep easier, and sleep more soundly. 

To do this stretch:

  1. Stand tall and inhale as you open your arms out wide.
  2. Exhale as you cross your arms, placing your left arm over your right to give yourself a hug.
  3. Breathe deeply as you use your hands to draw your shoulders forward.
  4. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds or whatever feels comfortable.
  5. To release, inhale to open your arms back open wide.
  6. Exhale and repeat with your right  arm on top.
  7. Repeat a few times

Child’s Pose

This is also a great stretch to do during the day if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

To do this stretch:

  1. Start on your knees, sitting back on your heels.
  2. Hinge at your hips to fold forward and rest your forehead on the floor.
  3. If comfortable, extend your arms in front of you to support your neck, use your arms as a pillow,  or bring your arms alongside your body. Find what works best for you. Feel free to use a pillow or cushion under your thighs or forehead for extra support.
  4. Breathe deeply in while holding the pose, bringing your awareness to any areas of discomfort or tightness in your body. Imagine as you exhale the tension is like sand running through your hands. 
  5. If comfortable, hold this pose for up to 5 minutes. You can come back to this pose between other stretches to give your body a rest. 

Seated forward bend

Really helpful to relieve tension in your spine, shoulders, legs and lower back. 

To do this stretch:

  1. Sit on your sit bones with your legs extended in front of you. Sit up straight. 
  2. Gently hinge at your hips to fold forward, reaching out your arms in front of you. Rest your hands on your legs wherever you feel comfortable. Some people are more flexible than others and can reach their toes but there is no need to stretch beyond what feels good.
  3. Relax your head and tuck your chin into your chest.
  4. Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.
  5. I like to hold the pose for about 30 seconds, release and repeat for 30 seconds.

Legs -up-the-wall pose

I love this one and used a tree for my wall while camping. It’s a restorative pose that is very relaxing and helps to reduce tension in your back, shoulders and neck. 

How to do this pose:

  1. Sit with the right side of your body against a wall.
  2. Gently lie on your back as you swing your legs up against the wall.
  3. Your hips can be up against the wall or a few inches away. Choose the distance that feels the best and most comfortable for you. Placing a  cushion under your hips will give you support and a bit of elevation.
  4. Rest your arms in any comfortable position.
  5. Remain in this pose for up to 10 minutes.

Reclined butterfly pose

If you spend most of your day sitting this one is great to relieve tension in your hips. 

To do this stretch:

  1. Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together.
  2. Lean back on your hands to bring your back, neck, and head to the floor. Using cushions or pillows under your knees or head can provide support and comfort.
  3. Place your arms in any comfortable position.
  4. Focus on relaxing your hips and thighs as you breathe deeply.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 10 minutes.

I hope these stretches and poses can help to improve your sleep. The key to any change is consistency.


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