A good night of sleep is the key to a productive, enjoyable day. But sometimes getting a satisfying amount of z’s is frustratingly impossible. We have all been there — struggling to fall asleep, waking up multiple times in the night, or tossing and turning, desperate to find a comfortable sleeping position. If you are looking to improve the quality or length of your sleep, consider the following exercises to integrate into your bedtime routine. They may help you unlock the best sleep of your life!
Stretch your muscles and calm your mind
Simple stretches before you snuggle in for the night can drastically improve your night of sleep as well as your overall health.
“Stretching also offers potential physical benefits, helping to relieve muscle tension and prevent sleep-disturbing cramps. Just make sure to stick to gentle stretches — doing a big workout before bed can have the opposite effect,” according to Emily Cronkleton, writer for Healthline.com.
Give yourself a bear hug so your rhomboids and trapezius muscles feel more relaxed. Stand up, stretch out your arms, cross your arms across your chest, one on top of the other, and breathe deeply. A 30-second hold is advised, she adds.
If you’re familiar with yoga, you already know how restorative child’s pose is after a session. Folding into child’s pose before bed can optimize your sleep.
“The child’s pose releases tension in the back and shoulders, gently stretches the hips and has an overall soothing effect,” reports Kelly DiNardo, writer for NYTimes.com.
Your hamstrings will feel stretched out and any lower back tension can dissipate with a simple move — lie on your back and put your legs up a wall.
“Sit with one hip next to a wall. Swing your legs up parallel to the wall as you lean back and rest your upper body on the ground, forming an L shape,” DiNardo advises.
Next, DiNardo instructs to take your right index finger to your nose, close your right nostril gently, and perform 5-10 breaths. Remove your finger and breathe through both nostrils.
“Then, press the feet into the wall, lift the hips slightly, and roll to one side. Stay on your side for a few breaths, taking your time to come out of the pose,” reports DiNardo.
Step outside and hit the pavement
Although advisable to do earlier in the evening rather than right before bedtime, a 30-minute walk outside can lead to better sleep. The combination of movement and the beauty of nature can do wonders on your stress level, according to Amanda Capritto, writer for CNET.com.
“A nice walk outside might be the antidote to your sleep struggle. Walking at any pace is a relaxing way to wind down from the day,” she adds. “Choose your pace based on what feels good that day. Listening to calm music may enhance the effects of your walk on your sleep.”
Increased motion during the day, focused physical effort in the evening, and simple stretches before you hit the sheets can be the tools you need to improve how well you sleep at night.