If you have trouble sleeping because of stress, or experience neck and back pain because of tense muscles, stretching before going to sleep may be just what you need for a better night of rest. Stretching can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour, depending on what types of stretches and the routine you prefer. Even just a few minutes can make a significant difference in your sleep quality.
Types of Stretches
There are many different kinds of stretching. Yoga is a popular type of stretch exercises that connect stretching with breathing. This is particularly helpful in preparing for sleep, as focusing on breathing can help calm your mind. Fitness magazine suggests several yoga poses that can be done right in your bed to help you fall asleep. It’s also important to practice stretching in a warm quiet place, moving slowly between positions and never holding a position that causes pain.
Part of a Routine
Stretching can be a great addition to a bedtime routine. Routines before bed can help your body prepare for sleep, helping you fall asleep faster. Stretching can help relax your muscles and focus your mind. If you are having trouble falling asleep, try trading a few minutes of TV time for some quiet stretches. You may find yourself more comfortable in bed and less time spent with your mind racing. You may also want to try stretching if you wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall asleep again. Stretching and breathing may help clear your mind and help you return to sleep faster.
If you have any health concerns, be sure to talk with a doctor before beginning any stretching routine. An article from the Mayo Clinic suggests holding each stretch rather than bouncing, as bouncing can cause damage to the muscle. The same article also recommends accompanying stretching with gentle movement such as Tai Chi. Keep in mind, however, that the goal of this exercise is not to increase the heart rate, but to loosen tense muscles.
For stretching to be successful, it may take time. Commit to including stretching in a nighttime routine for several weeks to see if it is beneficial for helping you sleep and feel better.