You’d be surprised how much strain our bodies come under on a day-to-day basis, whether this is doing a physically demanding job or spending your days sitting behind a desk.
The health benefits of stretching before bed can be advantageous to all of us. If you’re someone who is constantly on the go, for example, then stretching before climbing into bed can help with muscle recovery and also loosen any built-up tension from strenuous activities.
On the flip side, if, like many people, you have a desk job, and spend a lot of your days sedentary, then when bedtime hits, you may feel you’re unable to stay still and relax, which is where stretching before bed can become instrumental to you getting a good quality night’s sleep.
Stretching before bed isn’t just good for your sleep quality either. It can be beneficial for several other reasons, such as calming the mind and improving your general health.
Who Should Stretch Before Bed?
Stretching before bed can be an excellent exercise for anyone to introduce into their sleep schedule; however, some people might feel the benefits more than others.
If you’re someone who works out late at night, for example, then stretching before bed is going to be detrimental to your muscle recovery. This can also help to avoid injury and that post-work pain you wake up with the morning after a heavy lifting session.
Stretching before bed has also proven to be a great way of relaxing and can have similar effects as meditating before bed in that it calms and clears your mind of the stresses of the day.
If you suffer from a condition called restless leg syndrome, practicing stretches before bed can significantly reduce the urge to move your legs and decrease the number of muscle spasms you experience.
Health Benefits of Stretching Before Bed
In the following list, I will inform you about all the benefits stretching before bed can have on your health and sleep quality.
1. Reduce Risk of Injury
Stretching before you go to bed and any other time throughout the day has been scientifically proven to reduce your risk of injury in day-to-day life. This is because when you stretch regularly, the muscles become flexible, resulting in your muscles being able to take on a much broader range of mobility. If stretching isn’t a part of your daily routine, you’ll be at a much higher risk of muscle strain and injury.
2. Relieves Pressure
Sitting down for long periods or having a job where you’re in a sedentary position for long periods can build up a lot of tension in your muscles, which can mean that when it comes to lying in bed, you feel tight and experience pain and discomfort. Stretching before bed, however, can help to ease a lot of the pressure on your muscles, loosening them up and making falling asleep a much more comforting experience.
3. Prepares the Mind and Body for Sleep
Having a consistent sleep schedule is detrimental when it comes to getting a good night’s rest, and stretching is recommended to introduce into your routine. Performing stretching exercises each night in the hours running up to bed will let your mind and body know that it’s almost time to wind down, relax, and prepare for sleep. This can mean you fall asleep quicker and with much more ease.
4. Relieves Headaches
Headaches are brought on by several factors, such as stress, strong smells, excessive noise, or dehydration, and stretching before bed can have quite a significant hand in helping to relieve any tension in your head. The kind of stretches used to alleviate head pain usually involve gentle neck movements, which I will go into more detail about in the types of stretches to do before bed section of this article.
5. Reduces Cramping and Restless Leg Syndrome
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to experience restless leg syndrome or leg cramps during the night, then you’ll be relieved to learn that there is something you can do to alleviate your symptoms and get a more comfortable night’s rest. Performing leg stretches before bed elongates the muscles, giving them more flexibility and preventing them from becoming tight.
6. Stress Reduction
Stretches such as yoga are linked to some forms of meditation, which, as we all know, is a practice used to reduce stress, calm the mind, and help the body to enter a more relaxed state. So it goes without saying that practicing yoga-type exercises before bed will considerably affect your mindset and help you get a peaceful night’s rest.
Best Types of Stretches to do Before Bed
Different kinds of stretches can have varied effects on specific body parts and help to treat several conditions. So, depending on your need for stretches, whether it’s general health, back pain, or concur restless legs and cramps can decipher what kind of bedtime stretches are best for you. Below is a list of stretches that are beneficial for various reasons.
1. Neck Stretching
I mentioned earlier that people who suffer from nightly headaches or migraines could relieve their symptoms by simply stretching before bed. Neck stretching can include many movements, such as rolling your chin down to your chest, tilting your head to one side, performing on both sides, sitting up straight, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. However, it’s important to note that neck exercises should be done slowly and with caution. Any sudden movements or incorrect exercises can cause further, long-term neck problems.
Yoga is an excellent exercise to do before bed with many health benefits. If your reason for wanting to stretch before bed is to reduce stress, then yoga could be the answer to your prayers. Performing a yoga session before you hit the hay can also help you deal with the symptoms of sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea and can also help you to wake up feeling more refreshed in the morning.
Yoga has many other health benefits, such as lower cholesterol, improved feelings associated with depression, and enhanced metabolism and immune function. It can also increase the oxygen supply and release toxins contained within the body.
3. Bear Hug Stretch
The bear hug stretch is where you wrap your arms tightly around your body, exhaling as you bring your arms inwards. You would usually hold this stretch for around 30 seconds at a time, breathing very deeply while doing so. This will help to stretch your rhomboids and trapezius (the muscles in your upper back,) relieving symptoms of conditions such as bursitis and any shoulder or upper back pain you may be experiencing.
4. Seated Toe Touch Bend
If you’re looking for a stretch that will loosen up the muscles in your legs, spine, and shoulder, then the seated toe touch bend covers all those areas. Sitting on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you, slowly and gently lean forward to reach for your toes (don’t worry if you can’t quite reach, just lean as far as you can so that you can feel the stretch, but don’t hurt yourself in the process). Try to hold the pose for between 3-5 minutes to reap all the benefits.
Lunges are an excellent stretch to flex your hamstrings, glutes, and hips, meaning it’s the perfect stretch to do before bed if you spend a lot of time seated or, on the contrary, using your legs a lot.
Start by standing with your feet close together, and then one at a time, place one foot a stride in front of you, bending your stationary leg to the floor. It’s important to remain balanced and to keep your spine aligned when performing the lunge stretch.
A Final Analysis
So we’ve established that stretching before bed can have many benefits, not just to your sleep health but to your physical and mental well-being as well.
So, the next time life stresses prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, think about introducing a light yoga session into your sleep schedule to help encourage the mind to prepare for rest and clear itself of negative thoughts.
One thing I must stress is that if you’re thinking of introducing stretching to your nightly routine, you must research the proper ways to perform each stretch. Stretching usually very incorrectly can hinder recovery and even cause injury. Speaking with a chiropractor would be the best thing you could do to find a personalized stretching routine that works for you.