Want to sleep better at night?
Try doing a little stretching! When we stretch, it helps us to become more present and in the moment and this is the perfect antidote to the kind of high-stress environments most of us work and commute in.
If ever you’ve lain awake in bed worrying about your personal finances, your job or your relationship, then you’ll likely be able to see the benefit of grounding yourself and getting back ‘into the now’.
What’s more, stretching is also great for helping to relax the muscles. If you have any muscle tension as a result of stress, then stretching can help to release than so that you really sink into your bed and this can in turn provide feedback that helps you to doze off completely.
Stretching also releases serotonin which is closely linked to melatonin (the sleep hormone) and which combats stress and discomfort. What’s more, it provides numerous health benefits including greater muscle strength, flexibility and even IQ. It may even help you to look younger by improving collagen synthesis (study)! Now there’s a nice bonus!
Six Stretches for Bed
With that in mind then, what are some stretches you can start doing before bed? Yoga provides us with ample options but here are six that will help you to stretch most parts of your body.
Warrior Pose One
Start with one foot forward, knee bent and the other stretching back in a slight lunge. Your hands will be over your head and reaching towards the ceiling.
Warrior Pose Two
Now you will move into warrior pose two. Here, you are going to stretch your arms out to either side and face forwards in line with your hips.
Now reach down with your top hand and touch your front toe, with the other arm stretching up still and pointing at the ceiling.
Reverse Triangle Pose
Now swap sides so the other hand is touching your toes and you are facing the other wall.
Repeat these moves on the other side.
Downward Facing Dog
Next move into downward facing dog. This is essentially a position where you are on all fours but with your legs straight and feet on the ground. Now walk your feet in as close to your fingers as you can.
Finally, kneel down but reach forward as far as you can touching the ground in front of you.
To see these moves performed, check out this video by Mike Chang.
And remember, this is yoga and so to get the full benefits you need to also focus on your breathing, your concentration and your environment. Try to forget about the stresses of the day, breath slowly and steadily and maybe try listening to some relaxing music afterwards. If you can also combine this with a little quiet meditation, you’ll now be in the perfect place to hit the hay.
But stay away from your mobile phone or you’ll lose all the benefit!