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Five stretches to help you wind down before bed
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Five stretches to help you wind down before bed

Stretching and relaxation exercises before bed can help ease the body and mind and help ensure better quality sleep
Stretches to unwind before bed
Restorative poses can help people wind down before going to bed. (Photos by Anantha Subramanyam K/Happiest Health)

As the day winds down and the night-time chores and rituals are done with, most people hit the bed immediately. However, the body and mind invariably stay alert, leading to a lack of quality sleep. “The more you relax your body before bed, the better the quality of sleep,” says Arati Sunil Halarnekar, physiotherapist, Manipal Hospital, Goa. “A simple relaxation routine comprising exercises and stretches can help the body and mind reduce stress and get better sleep.” 

Stretches soothe both body and mind, thus aiding in increased amounts of deep sleep. A 2019 study published in Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry found that moderate-intensity resistance exercises as well as stretching led to similar improvements in objective and subjective sleep among people with chronic insomnia.   

“Some people struggle to get sleep and they are recommended to cut off screen time or find a comfortable bedroom temperature. Similarly, stretching helps in getting better sleep,” says Halarnekar.  

So, set a serene ambience and practice these five stretches that soothe your muscles and gently help you wind down before bed for a good night’s sleep.  

Stretches to relax before bedtime

1. Child’s pose

Sit back on your heels, stretch your arms forward, and lower your forehead to the ground. The elongation of the spine in this pose encourages deep breathing. “Child’s pose releases tension and reduces back pain. You can add in a supine twist that works on the hip, spine and gluteal muscles,” says Halarnekar.  

2. Standing forward bend

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hinge your hips and fold towards your toes while your upper body hangs loose. This will help stretch your hamstrings, lower back and hips, releasing tightness from a day of sitting or standing.  

3. Reclining spinal twist

Reclining spinal twist to unwind before bed

You will need to lie on your back for this stretch. Ensure that your shoulders are rolled back while you bring one knee towards the chest and gently guide it across your body to the opposite side. As you sink deep into the stretch, the tension in the lower back and spine gets released.  

4. Butterfly stretch

Butterfly stretch

Sit down comfortably with the soles of your feet pressing against each other and your knees opened wide. Lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the inner thighs and hips. This posture helps release tension in the hips and groin, areas where stress tends to accumulate. Halarnekar explains, “As we go about our daily activities, our postural and lower limb muscles are most affected. Stretching focused on these muscles helps relax the body.”  

5. Legs-up-the-wall pose

Legs up the wall to unwind before bed

Lie down beside a wall and extend your legs vertically against the wall. This restorative pose helps drain away tension from the legs and lower back, thus soothing the body before you sleep. “The leg against the wall stretch relaxes the muscles of the lower limb, especially your glutes, hamstrings, quads, the lower back and hip — all the weight-bearing muscles,” adds Halarnekar.  

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