Strength & Stretching Routine
for a Better Night’s Sleep
Deep Relaxation & RejuvenationJanuary 5, 2023
Deep Relaxation & RejuvenationJanuary 5, 2023
Fall asleep faster, help your muscles recover better and have better quality sleep with a simple nighttime routine that incorporates stretching and some light strength training. We’ve gathered a list of low-impact moves and full-body stretches that will help you rest and wind down after a long day.
Sleep is a time when your entire body is completely at rest ─ it’s the only part of your day when you’re not actively using any muscles or joints. Stretching and gently moving the body before bed can support rejuvenation by signalling to the body that it is time for deep relaxation.
The goal of a nighttime movement routine is to extend, not overextend, especially when it comes to stretching. It’s also good to make a distinction between strength and stretching. Studies have found a link between meditative movements and improved sleep quality (which overflows, having a positive impact on your quality of life). And while there is a belief that working out before bed can negatively affect your sleep, reviews have shown that movement which doesn’t raise your adrenaline too much can be a constructive addition to your nighttime routine.
There is also an array of positive effects to be gained by initiating some healthy bedtime habits. The mental benefits of a pre-bedtime movement routine include grounding into your body and deepening your breathing which can help release the stress of the day and further develop your mindfulness and awareness. Endorphins released during the workout can also promote a sense of relaxation. Physical benefits include relieving muscle tension, improving blood flow and preventing muscle cramps and spasms. Moderate workouts can also regulate the core body temperature which leads to deeper and more restful sleep.
So let’s jump in! Below is a list of movements that you can play with, but take it easy and try to listen to what your body needs at the moment. One idea could be to set aside 15 to 20 minutes for this winding down routine and intuitively explore which stretches feel best for you.
Works the rhomboids and trapezius muscles of your upper back, while relieving tension or pain around the shoulder blades
- Stand tall and inhale stretching your arms wide
- Exhale and cross your arms to give yourself a hug
- Hold for 5-10 breaths, then inhale to open the arms wide
- Exhale and repeat on the other side, alternating to switch which arm was on top
Works on the neck and upper trapezius muscles.
- Stand or sit, facing forward and then tilt your right ear towards your right shoulder while the left arm hangs.
- Gently guide your head and neck deeper into the stretch with the help of the right hand
- Hold for 5-7 breaths
- Switch sides
Targets the lower back but also mobilizes the whole spine
- Get on hands and knees, in a neutral position with your hands under the shoulder, knees under your hips and flat
- Inhale and arch the back while you engage the core muscles and look up
- Exhale and round the spine, dropping the head and looking down
- Alternate and repeat for 1 to 3 minutes or until you feel the whole spine is moving
Full-body exercise, especially working on strengthening the core. Focus on long deep breaths to keep this movement restorative rather than overly activating.
- From all fours push up into a plank position by extending the legs until the body forms a strong, straight line from head to heels
- Hold here for 5 to 7 breaths keeping your core engaged and gaze towards the fingers
- Release and rest, then repeat two more times
Relieves tension in the lower back and hips, while stretching out the glutes and upper body
- Starting on your hands and knees, open the knees wide and have the big toes on each foot touch
- Lower the butt towards the heels while the arms stretch out in front of you
- Hold for 10 breaths or up to 5 minutes
Low-impact but strengthening; this move targets the core, glutes and entire posterior chain along the body of the body
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, arms by your side
- Inhale and lift the hips while you push into the heels, engaging the core and glutes
- Hold at the top for 3-5 breathes and then return to starting position on the exhale
- Repeat 5-10 times
Targets the thoracic spine (upper back) but is also a great way to open up the whole spine and help with tightness in the hips and neck.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and arms spread wide in a ‘T’ shape
- Drop your knees to the left side and turn your head to the right
- Can deep the twist by holding the knees with your left hand and opening the right shoulder even more
- Hold for 5-10 breaths and then switch sides
Lying Knee to Chest
Great for the hips, and also helps to open up the glutes, back, neck and shoulders
- Lie on your back with your legs stretching out in front of you
- Draw your right knee up towards the chest and hold behind the knee with both hands
- Hold for 5-10 breaths, thinking to draw the knee closer to the chest while the shoulders stay relaxed on the ground
- Switch sides
Legs Up the Wall
A deeply restorative post that relieves tension in the back, shoulders and neck while returning blood flow and oxygen to the brain
- Sit close to the wall and then lie down on your back while swinging your legs up the wall
- Move your butt and hips as close to the wall as feels most comfortable (you can also use a cushion or pillow under the hips for support and extra elevation)
- Arms rest open in a ‘T’ or cactus shape
- Remain here breathing deeply for 5 to 10 minutes
Other Ways to Boost Your Bedtime
- Try breathwork and meditation ─ after relaxing the body with these simple movements, try a restorative breathing practice or meditation to sink even deeper
- Avoid electronics ─ the bright screen from your smartphone, laptop and TV can stimulate the brain and keep you awake by making it more difficult to relax
- Stay consistent with your sleep schedule ─ try to wake up and go to bed at the same time to stabilize the body’s inner clock
- Get comfortable ─ make sure your mattress and pillows are comfy and keep the room dark and at a good temperature (around 18 degrees celsius is said to promote melatonin production)
- Avoid nicotine, alcohol and caffeine ─ these substances can make it harder to get a good night’s rest
- Avoid heavy meals before bed ─ heartburn, indigestion and other factors disrupt your beauty slumber
- Explore natural remedies ─ chamomile tea, a diffuser with essential oils, or a cup of hot milk before bed can do wonders to help soothe your mind and body