How stretching can help your sleep routine

How stretching can help your sleep routine

If you struggle to fall asleep, stretching may help you to do so more quickly. It can also improve blood flow and relieve muscle tension — both of which aid in muscle recovery and sleep quality. The more you can get your body to relax before sleep, the more effective your sleep will be.

Sleep is the one time your body is at complete rest, when you’re not using any muscles or joints to support yourself. 

Stretching before bed helps your body to relieve muscle tension and prevent sleep-disrupting cramps.

A study  into stretching found that exercises could improve symptoms of insomnia. In the study, the participants performed stretching in 60-minute sessions three times per week for a period of 4 months. The results showed improved sleep quality when stretching in the evening.  Benefits of stretching specifically before bed is necessary. However, many studies have linked gentle exercise and stretching with an overall improvement in sleep quality.

In general, stretching can help:

  • reduce body pain
  • reduce stress and improve mood
  • increase mobility and flexibility
  • improve muscle health and performance
  • reduce the risk of injury
  • promote weight loss
  • improve circulation

Try these stretches before bed. You should only stretch as much as is comfortable and stop if any stretches cause pain or discomfort.

Neck Stretch

This stretch works on the neck and upper trapezius muscles. “During the majority of the day, tension builds up in these muscle groups, in the neck and shoulders — particularly if you’re sitting at a desk.

  1. Sit or stand with good posture.
  2. Keeping your face forward, tip your right ear toward your right shoulder while reaching your left hand toward the floor.
  3. Gently guide your head towards your right shoulder with your right hand.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat two to three times on the right, then switch sides and repeat.


This stretch targets the lower back, which can get stiff from sitting, standing or walking. 

Get onto your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips. (This is your neutral position.)

  1. Arch your back by tightening your abdominal muscles, squeezing your buttocks and tucking in your tailbone (“cat”).
  2. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  3. Let your lower back sag toward the floor, rotate your tailbone upwards and stretch the front of your neck (“cow”).
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  5. Return to the neutral position and repeat five to 10 times.

Standing Quad Stretch

This stretch targets the quads, or the front of the thighs, a large muscle group that gets a lot of use —whenever you’re on your feet, climbing stairs or getting in and out of chairs. “This is a simple stretch to do throughout the day, but it’s especially important to do before you go to bed.

From a standing position, bend your right knee, holding your ankle or foot with your right hand behind you.

  1. Gently pull your foot toward your butt until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.
  2. Hold for 30 seconds.
  3. Lower your leg down.
  4. Repeat three times on the right, then switch sides and repeat.

Seated forward bend 

This stretch helps to loosen up your spine, shoulders, and hamstrings. It also stretches your lower back.

To do this stretch:

  1. Sit down with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Engage your abdominal slightly to lengthen your spine, pressing your sit bones into the floor.
  3. Hinge at your hips to fold forward, reaching out your arms in front of you.
  4. Relax your head and tuck your chin into your chest.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.


Child’s pose `s

Child’s Pose is a resting stretch that’s similar to a kneeling lat stretch, but more relaxed. It’s perfect for tuning into your breath, relaxing your body, and reducing stress. It also helps to relieve pain and tension in your back, shoulders, and neck.

To do this stretch:

  1. Come down on your knees, sitting back on your heels.
  2. Hinge at your hips to fold forward and rest your forehead on the floor.
  3. Extend your arms in front of you to support your neck or bring your arms alongside your body. You can use a pillow or cushion under your thighs or forehead for extra support.
  4. Breathe deeply while holding the pose, bringing your awareness to any areas of discomfort or tightness in your back.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes. You can also come into this pose between other stretches to give your body a rest.

Reclining bound angle pose 

This relaxing hip opener can help to relieve muscle tension in your hips and groin, making it especially good if you spend most of your day sitting.

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. You can use cushions or pillows under your knees or head for support.
  3. Place your arms in any comfortable positions.
  4. Focus on relaxing your hips and thighs as you breathe deeply.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 10 minutes.