Does Stretching Help You Sleep? Here's Why You Should Make It A Nightly Routine
If you are constantly looking for helpful ways to make for a better rest, you have probably tried a little bit of everything, and ended up with mixed results. From getting an eye mask, to rubbing lavender on your temples, or trying fancy "sleep juices," most of us seeking better sleep have tried it all. The struggle can be all too real. Some people even exercise and do certain stretches before climbing into bed at night. But you may find yourself wondering, does stretching help you sleep? It actually does for a lot of reasons.
A gentle set of stretches before you pack it in for the night might be something you should consider including in your bedtime routine. Hey, if it works, why not give it a try?
As Mayo Clinic reports, stretching in general is crucial for your muscle and joint health. It not only enhances flexibility and muscle strength, but it can lessen your risk of developing injuries as well.
As for helping you catch some much-needed snooze time? Simply speaking, according to WebMD, doing stretches promotes relaxation. Ease out of the tensions of a jam-packed, hectic schedule with some stretches that work best for you.
As Nikos Apostolopoulos, director of the Microstretching Clinic in Vancouver told Reader's Digest, stretching is a particularly good thing to practice around bedtime.
Apostolopoulos spoke with Reader's Digest that stretching will help promote a better rest in general, working for your body's well-being on multiple levels. He said,
Flexibility work, if done properly, has a calming effect. A lot of my patients are taught to stretch before they go to sleep.
When you prepare your body for sleep through [gently] stretching, you’re helping your body recover and regenerate.
A big part of the reason stretching is so calming is the measured breathing.
As Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. reveal in their paper The Science of Breathing, breath techniques, like the ones that accompany gentle, mindful stretching, aid and promote deeper relaxation, help greater control of "psycho physiological states," alleviate stress, and enhance organ functions. Not bad, eh?
With that in mind, a great stretch to try before you go to bed is a simple spinal twist like the one in the video below.
To do it, simply lie on your back with your arms perpendicular to your body. Keeping your left leg straight, draw your right knee up towards your body, then over and across your left leg, all while keeping your shoulders on the ground. If you want and it feels good, you can also turn your neck and send your gaze in the opposite direction. Then simply repeat on the other side.
Don't forget to breathe, deep and slow, right into your belly!
A favorite of mine is a diamond or butterfly stretch. It feels great on the hips!
Sitting with a straight spine, bring the bottoms of both feet together and lay your knees out to the side in "butterfly pose." If this feels difficult for your knees or groin, you can place pillows or books beneath your knees or thighs for extra support. Starting from the crown of the head, slowly articulate your vertebrae as you reach your head towards your feet. Keep your belly in, and be mindful to not curl your shoulders in towards each other. And yes, again, breathe!
But really y'all, whatever stretches you know or find that feel good for you are great. Just give yourself 5-10 minutes before you crawl into bed to give your body a little extra love and air, and your dreamworld will surely be glad you made the effort.