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What Are the Best Stretches to Do Before Bed?

By: SleepScore Labs  |  Februar 15th, 2022

What Are the Best Stretches to Do Before Bed?

Do you find it hard to unwind your body and mind for sleep, even when you’ve followed your nighttime routine and are prepped for rest? Maybe it’s time to consider stretching before bedtime; it’s easier than you think!

Let’s check out some stretching ideas you can try before bed to help you release the day’s stress and get the recovery sleep you need.

Stretches to Do Before Bed

Stretches may help free your body and mind and reduce your stress levels, and can even improve your sleep quality when done before bedtime.

Here are eight stretches you can do as part of your bedtime ritual to help you fall and stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

1. Child’s Pose

The child’s pose is a restful mind-body exercise for releasing any tightness you may feel in your body. 

This stretch may help you relax your body, feel a little lighter, relieve body tension, and reduce back pains. 

Here’s how to practice this stretch:

  • Kneel on your mat and let your butt rest on your heel. 
  • Lay your back and hands forward as you rest your forehead on your mat.
  • Extend your arms around your forehead.
  • Deeply inhale while in this position.
  • As you exhale, heighten your senses to every part of your body.
  • Hold this position for 60 seconds to 2 minutes.

2. Knee to Chest Stretch

This stretch opens up your lower back and helps you become more aware of and release any discomfort in your body.

Here’s how to do this stretch:

  • Lay down on your back with your head facing up.
  • Slowly pull one knee with both hands to your upper chest.
  • Hug the knee till you feel a stretch in your lower back.
  • Keep the other leg straight and relaxed.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Switch to the other leg and repeat the same movement.

3. Supine Twist 

Supine twist helps relax your body by stretching your back, glutes, and hip muscles.

Here’s what to do:

  • Lay straight on your back.
  • Pull both knees to your chest till you feel like you’ve extended your spine.
  • Inhale and drop both knees to one side. Exhale. 
  • Gently put the top leg down on the bottom leg.
  • Let your chest face the ceiling. 
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

4. Neck Stretch

The neck stretch is another stretch that can help your body feel calm and lighter for a restful night’s sleep. This stretch helps release stiffness around the neck and upper body.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Sit or stand, maintaining an upright and comfortable position.
  • While your face remains forward, put your right hand to the top of your head or your left ear.
  • Gently rest your right ear on your right shoulder.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Switch positions and repeat.

5. Cat-Cow Stretch

This stretch opens up your lower back, neck, and shoulder and releases any tension around the area. 

To do this stretch:

  • Start by resting your hands and knees on the mat to form the neutral position
  • Assume the cat pose by arching your back upwards as you tighten your core in.
  • Raise your head and relax your shoulders
  • Hold for 10 seconds
  • Switch to the cow pose pushing your lower back forward toward the ground and tilting your tailbone upward
  • Stretch your neck forward and relax your shoulders.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Return to the neutral position. 

6. Standing Quad Stretch

Standing quad stretch is a relaxation pose that lengthens the muscles in the front of your thigh. This muscle group supports your body weight when you’re standing, walking, running, taking the stairs, or any other leg movement.

Here’s how to do this stretch:

  • Stand upright while resting your body on a wall or table for support. If you can maintain balance while doing this pose, you can do without the support.
  • Bring your right heel backward with your right hand till your right heel is close to touching your butt.
  • Hold your right foot in this position while keeping your left knee bent slightly.
  • Remain in this position for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly put down your right leg.
  • Switch sides and repeat the movement. 

7. Legs-Against-the-Wall Stretch

This relaxation pose lengthens the muscles in your hamstring, glutes, lower back, and hips and releases tightness in your body.

Follow these steps:

  • Lie on a mat while letting your body face the wall.
  • With your back flat on the mat, raise your legs and let them rest against the wall.
  • You can keep your butt close to the wall.
  • Rest your arms by your side.
  • Remain in this position for up to 10 minutes. 

8. Butterfly Pose 

Butterfly pose helps you open up the lower back, thigh, and hips. It’s excellent for making you feel more grounded in your body and releasing pent-up emotions.

To do this pose:

  • Sit upright on a mat
  • Push your heels forward till they both meet each other.
  • Widen your knees apart from each other.
  • Rest your hands on your feet.
  • Engage your core and gently bend forward to the middle of your thighs.
  • Lengthen your spine as much as you can.
  • Remain in this position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat two to four times.

What Are the Benefits of Stretching Before Bed

Here are a few ways stretching before bed may positively impact your sleep health and overall wellbeing.

Releases muscle stiffness

When you stretch before bed, you lengthen muscle parts that may be tight or tensed from the day’s stress or inactivity.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, when the muscles are tight, it may cause muscle imbalance and impair flexibility. The article also recommended stretching to release the muscles and spread tension across other structures like the joint.

Promotes circulation

Stretching may also support blood flow in your system. A  study suggests that stretching may allow blood flow more efficiently, reducing blood pressure and cardiac workload in healthy young adults. 

Similarly, another animal study observed that stretching for rats increases blood flow to their skeletal muscle and may be a valuable way to support muscle blood flow in older adults who don’t engage in aerobic exercises. 

Manage insomnia symptoms

Insomnia is a sleep condition that makes it challenging to get quality restful sleep. Evidence suggests that stretching may help improve insomnia symptoms and support a good night’s rest.

According to a 2018 study, stretching decreased tension, anxiety, and insomnia severity in people with chronic insomnia. 

Improves sleep quality 

Stretching may calm and relax your body, reduce your stress levels, and relieve your body of any discomfort you may be feeling. When your body is in a state of calm and ease, you’re better able to fall and stay asleep.

An older study found that stretching and exercise may improve sleep quality in women who are inactive and menopausal. Likewise, a 2016 study suggests that meditative movements like yoga, which involve stretching, may effectively enhance sleep quality.

Relieves back pain

Back pains may cause discomfort, making it difficult to fall asleep and get undisturbed sleep. Stretching may help relieve this discomfort and get a well-rested night.

Research suggests that stretching may enhance muscle strength and flexibility and reduce lower back pain. Similarly, a 2013 study suggests that stretching may reduce chronic low back pain severity. 

How Long Should I Stretch Before Bed?

Generally, experts recommend stretching between 5 to 30 minutes before bedtime to calm your body and prepare it for a restful night. Stretching is generally safe for most people and may help improve your sleep and fitness levels. 

Consider taking a few minutes every day before bedtime to stretch! It may be just what you need to unwind each evening.