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Unwind and Sleep Better: Bedtime Exercises and Stretches for a Restful Night

woman sleeping peacefully

Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being, yet many of us struggle to unwind at the end of the day and get the restful sleep we need. Incorporating gentle exercises and stretches into your nightly routine can help relax your body and mind, setting the stage for a peaceful night's sleep. Here are some effective exercises and stretches to try before bedtime.


1. Child's Pose


Child's Pose is a calming stretch that helps release tension in the back and shoulders.

How to do it:

  • Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching and knees spread apart.

  • Sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward, lowering your torso between your thighs.

  • Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes, breathing deeply and allowing your body to relax.

Benefits: This pose gently stretches the back muscles and promotes a sense of calm and relaxation.



2. Legs Up on the Wall


Legs Up the Wall is a restorative pose that improves circulation and helps calm the nervous system.

How to do it:

  • Sit with one side of your body against a wall.

  • Swing your legs up the wall as you lie back on the floor, forming a 90-degree angle with your body.

  • Rest your arms by your sides and hold the pose for 2-5 minutes, focusing on your breath.

Benefits: This pose helps reduce swelling in the legs, promotes relaxation, and prepares your body for sleep.



3. Cat-Cow Stretch


The Cat-Cow stretch is a gentle flow between two poses that helps release tension in the spine and neck.

How to do it:

  • Start on your hands and knees with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

  • Inhale, arch your back, and lift your head and tailbone towards the ceiling (Cow Pose).

  • Exhale, round your spine, and tuck your chin to your chest (Cat Pose).

  • Repeat for 1-2 minutes, moving with your breath.

Benefits: This stretch helps to relieve stress and tension in the spine, making it easier to relax.



4. Supine Hamstring Stretch


Supine hamstring stretch is a simple stretch that helps calm the nervous system and release tension in the hamstrings.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with the right knee straight and the left knee bent.

  • Wrap a towel or stretching strap around the bottom of the right foot then pull that foot toward the ceiling keeping the knee straight until a stretch is felt in the back of the upper thigh.

  • Hold the stretch for 1 minute each side, breathing deeply.

Benefits: This pose stretches the hamstrings, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.



5. Supine Butterfly Stretch


Supine Butterfly Stretch is a restorative stretch that opens the hips and groin, promoting relaxation.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to drop open to the sides.

  • Rest your arms by your sides and hold the pose for 2-5 minutes, focusing on your breath.

Benefits: This pose gently stretches the inner thighs and opens the hips, helping you relax and unwind.



6. Supine Spinal Twist


The Supine Spinal Twist is a gentle stretch that helps relieve tension in the back and aids digestion.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back and bring one knee to your chest.

  • Cross your knee over your body to the opposite side, extending your arms out to the sides.

  • Hold the stretch for 1-2 minutes on each side, breathing deeply.

Benefits: This twist helps release tension in the back and promotes relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.



7. Box Breathing or Meditation


Box Breathing and Meditation can help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.

How to do it:

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position.

  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath, taking slow, deep inhales that last 5 seconds.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Blow out totally for 5 seconds.

  • Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Practice this for 3-5 rounds, or try a guided meditation to help you relax.

Benefits: Box breathing and meditation reduce stress and anxiety, promoting a peaceful state of mind.



8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation


Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in your body.

How to do it:

  • Lie down in a comfortable position.

  • Starting from your toes, tense each muscle group for a few seconds, then release.

  • Gradually work your way up to your head, focusing on each muscle group in turn.

Benefits: This technique helps release physical tension and calms the mind, making it easier to fall asleep.



Incorporating these exercises and stretches into your nightly routine can help create a peaceful and relaxing transition to sleep. Give them a try and see how they improve your sleep quality. Sweet dreams!


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