Bedtime Stretch Routine to Help You Sleep

Try this bedtime stretch routine next time you need some help to get to sleep. This is a great routine for relaxation at night!

When you stretch, you’re signaling to your muscles, “Okay, we’re done here. No need for the heavy lifting anymore, it’s time to wind down.” This is why I always tell clients to warm up using cardio and self-myofascial release like foam rolling, rather than doing static stretching before working out. (Here are 6 dynamic warm up workouts you can try instead of stretching before your next workout.) We want our muscles ready for action, not ready for sleep!

Speaking of sleep, a stretch routine like the one I’ve put together for you here is a really nice addition to your bedtime routine. Anyone who’s a parent or deals with kids a lot know how soothing routines, particularly bedtime routines, can be. It doesn’t just magically stop being effective once you hit a certain age – pre-sleep routines are helpful for everyone. 

Try to time your stretching for either after a warm bath or shower, or if you’re a morning shower person, maybe do a few yoga or light strength moves first, just to get your muscles warm and your joints lubricated before you do these static stretches.

Try this bedtime stretch routine next time you need some help to get to sleep. This is a great routine for relaxation at night!

FORWARD FOLD

Start by standing, feet about hip width apart, and breathe in as you raise your arms up over your head. Breathe out as you hinge at your hips, coming into your forward fold. Keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine. You can either clasp your elbows like I’m doing here, or let your arms hang. Take long, deep breaths in and out and just enjoy the feeling of weightlessness in your shoulders. (You can keep a slight bend in your knees if you tend to lock your knees out.)

What I love in this stretch is to think about releasing the tension from my face and jaw. I definitely hold my tension in my jaw, and this folded position means gravity is working with me to just let all those tight muscles on the face relax and melt a  little.

When you’re ready, release your clasp, then slowly roll up, vertebra by vertebra, until you are in a standing position again.

Try this bedtime stretch routine next time you need some help to get to sleep. This is a great routine for relaxation at night!

CAT COW

Now you’re going to come down to hands and knees (if you’re not using a mat it’s fine, just either pick a carpeted area, or have a towel handy to put down under your knees). I love cat cow. I use it as a warm up, a cool down, or a pick me up nearly every single day. It feels wonderful for your back and I find it relaxing too. Make sure your hands are positioned right under your shoulders, then slowly start arching your back (cat), flowing gently into a concave spine with shoulder blades squeezed, chest open and head raised (cow). Go back and forth slowly between these two positions for as long as you like.

This should make your lower back feel very happy. šŸ™‚

Try this bedtime stretch routine next time you need some help to get to sleep. This is a great routine for relaxation at night!

HAMSTRING STRETCH

Come down to sit on the floor, and tuck one foot in to your opposite leg. Extend your other leg, with foot flexed, then slowly hinge from your hips and hold on to what ever part of your leg and foot you can reach comfortably. This just needs to feel like a gentle stretch down the back of your leg, so there’s no need to force it by going further than you comfortably can.

If you feel any discomfort behind your knee, stop and adjust by bending your knee slightly. You will still be stretching your muscles, just putting less pressure on the insertion points around the knee.

Switch your leg positions and stretch out the other side.

Try this bedtime stretch routine next time you need some help to get to sleep. This is a great routine for relaxation at night!

NECK STRETCH

So many of us have tension built up in our shoulders and neck, from desk jobs, excessive sitting, or poor posture. Sit up with your legs crossed (you can sit slightly elevated on a folded up blanket or cushion if that’s more comfortable) and sit on one hand. Sitting up tall, with a neutral spine and head held straight, lower your head to your shoulder, away from the hand you’re sitting on. This may be enough of a stretch for the side of your neck, but you can also take your free hand and place it on the side of your head, using it as a weight to increase the stretch a little. Do NOT push down on your head – just the weight of your hand alone is enough for this stretch.

Switch hands, and repeat on the other side.

Try this bedtime stretch routine next time you need some help to get to sleep. This is a great routine for relaxation at night!

CHILD’S POSE STRETCHES

There’s a reason when you go to a yoga class that the teacher tells you to go into child’s pose at any point if you need a break. It’s a restorative pose, which makes it a beautifully relaxing pose to end this evening stretch routine with.

For child’s pose, sit on your knees (you can have them together, or slightly wider than hip width – experiment to see which feels more comfortable for you), then fold forward over your knees, with arms extended and forehead on the floor. Your butt should be back either resting on your calves, or between your legs (depending on which width you chose for your knee distance). Just breathe. As you start to relax, you can try to inch your fingertips forward a little to increase the stretch, if that feels good.

A variation I’ve always suggested to my clients is to get some nice lateral stretching in the back by moving this pose to the diagonal. Once you’re in your position, just start inching your fingertips over to your left, until you feel a stretch down the right side of your back. Hold t here and breathe, just enjoying the stretch. Come back to center, then inch your fingertips to the right to get the same stretch on the left side of your back. 

Once you’re done, you can stay in child’s pose for a while if it’s comfortable, or you can try a viparita karani (legs up the wall), or shavasana (corpse pose). Either one is a lovely way to finish your bedtime stretch routine.

If you’re feeling super ambitious, you could even try a short meditation (check out these ideas from my friend Nellie for short guided meditations to follow). 

Do you have trouble winding down for bed? Have you tried a bedtime routine or stretching?

If you’re looking for more gentle stretch workouts, check out this round up of 6 yoga stretch routines for runners (which work just as well if you’re not a runner!).

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! I do the neck stretch the most. Because I am mostly sitting down and on the computer, my shoulders, neck, and back hurt most of the time. I need to work on my posture when working as well. I also do stretches that help with the shoulders so I can sleep more relaxed.

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