Among natural sleep remedies which range from drinking chamomile tea to diffusing essential oils, stretching is often overlooked.
During this trying lockdown time, it can be incredibly difficult to get a good eight hours of sleep in.
We often toss and turn, spend hours on our phone or listen to meditating sounds.
However, why go through all that when you could do a short 10-stretch sequence that will guarantee a supple body and relaxed mind before bed?
The stretches listed will help to relieve excess tension throughout the main areas in your body, so it is important to maintain a good posture.
Remember always to engage your core and work within your comfort zone.
1. TILTED SIDE NECK STRETCH
- Sit up in bed comfortably. Take your right hand over the top of your head to touch your left ear;
- Gently bring your right ear towards your right shoulder, holding this position for five breaths;
- Repeat this sequence on the opposite side.
2. ‘HUG YOURSELF’ STRETCH
- Sit up tall and inhale while you open your arms out wide;
- Exhale and cross your arms, placing your right arm over your left to give yourself a hug;
- Use your hands to draw your shoulders forward and breathe deeply;
Count to 30 and hold the stretch;
- Release and repeat the sequence with your left arm on top.
3. CHEST STRETCH
- Sit with your legs crossed and clasp your hands behind your back;
- Inhale, then exhale, as you lift your hands up and pull your shoulders back;
- Hold the position for 15 counts;
- Release and repeat up to three times.
4. SEATED SPINAL TWIST
- Sit upright with your legs crossed and your hands resting on your thighs;
- Square your hips so they remain even;
- Reach your right arm behind you and place your fingertips on the bed, gently twisting your body to the right;
- Place your left arm in front of your right knee, fingertips on the bed;
- Take a deep breath and exhale as you twist further to the right;
- Gently release from the pose and then repeat on the other side.
(Do this at your own pace.)
- Sit up straight with your legs extended in front of you;
- Inhale while reaching your arms up to the ceiling;
- Exhale and lean forward to touch your toes;
- Relax your head and tuck your chin into your chest;
- Hold this pose for up to 30 counts;
- Repeat up to three times.
6. CHILD’S POSE
- Sit on the bed on your knees, then sit back on your heels;
- Hinge at your hips to fold forward and rest your forehead on the bed;
- Extend your arms in front of you to support your neck or bring your arms alongside your body;
- Breathe deeply in while holding the pose;
- Hold this pose for up to 2 minutes.
7. SIDE QUAD STRETCH
- Lie on the bed and turn over on your right side;
- Place your right hand on your head for support or simply extend it out for balance;
- Grab your left foot with your left hand while keeping the right leg extended straight out;
- Pull on the left foot, feeling the stretch in the quadricep muscle;
- Do this for 15 counts;
- Release, then switch sides.
8. CAT AND COW POSE
- Begin on all-fours, with your hands and knees on the bed;
- As you inhale, arch your back, and lift your head and tailbone. This part of the stretch is called cow;
- With an exhale, round your spine up to the ceiling and simultaneously tuck your tailbone in and tuck your chin toward your chest. This part is known as cat;
- Continue flowing back and forth from cat to cow, breathing deeply;
- Repeat for a 60 counts;
- Press your hips back toward your heels in order to release.
9. LEGS UP THE WALL POSE
- Lie on your back as you put your legs straight up against the wall;
- Your hips can be up against the wall or a few centimetres away;
- Rest your arms in any comfortable position;
- Remain in this pose for up to 5 minutes.
10. HIP STRETCH
- Sit up straight and bring the soles of your feet together;
- Lean back on your hands to bring your back, neck, and head onto the bed;
- Place your arms in any comfortable positions;
- Focus on relaxing your hips and thighs as you breathe deeply;
- Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes.
Overall, stretching can improve sleep quality which can be linked to a better quality of life.
Getting in touch with your body by stretching helps you to focus your attention on your breath and body and not the stressors of the day.