Lady stretching before bed - Best stretches for sleep

Stretch Your Way To Sleep

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In the quest for quality sleep, managing stress is key. Sleep gurus strongly advise incorporating an evening ritual to calm busy minds. Adding some gentle stretching into your wind-down routine, alongside other tactics like mindful breathing and taking sleep supplements before bed, can be a total game-changer. 

Stretching is a natural and powerful strategy, not only for keeping those muscles in check, but also for giving your mental health a boost and feeling the day’s stresses melt away. Ever tried yoga, tai chi, or qi gong? These practices blend stretching with focused breathing and mindfulness, creating a serene haven for your mind.

Engaging in these activities, or any form of pre-bedtime stretching, can work wonders for your stress levels, setting the stage for a smoother journey into dreamland and enhancing your overall sleep quality and duration. 

Don’t worry, we’re not going to ask you to shape yourself into a pretzel. In fact, we always say to avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime. These gentle, calming stretches can help release tension, relax your muscles, and pave the way for a night of blissful sleep. Grab your comfiest PJs and let’s take a look at some of our faves: 

Neck stretches for sleep

Neck Tension Relief

Ear-to-Shoulder Neck Stretch:

  1. Get cozy in a chair or stand comfortably.
  2. Ease your right ear toward your right shoulder, feeling that delightful stretch.
  3. Hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Gently bring your head back to the starting position.
  5. Now, switch to the left side.
  6. Repeat this stretch two to four times.

Up-and-Down Neck Stretch:

  1. Take a comfy seat or stand up straight.
  2. Gradually lower your chin towards your chest – let the stretch begin!
  3. Press your chin into your neck for a soothing 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly lift your head back up to the starting point.
  5. Next, tilt your chin skyward and savor the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds.
  6. Lower your head back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat this flow two to four times.

Side-to-Side Neck Stretch:

  1. Find a comfy spot in a chair or stand tall.
  2. Gently turn your head to the right, relishing the stretch.
  3. Hold that stretch for 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Gradually return your head to the starting position.
  5. Now, mirror the stretch on the left side.
  6. Loop through this sequence two to four times. Stretch it out!

Shoulder tension release to help sleep

Shoulder Tension Release

Poor posture during the workday can lead to shoulder pain. Before bedtime, try this simple shoulder stretch to alleviate accumulated tension.

Shoulder Stretch:

  1. Lift your shoulders towards your ears.
  2. Hold the position for three seconds.
  3. Roll your shoulders backwards.
  4. Lower your shoulders to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the stretch 10 times.

Back stretches to help sleep

Back Relaxation Moves

Aside from neck and shoulder discomfort, poor posture can also contribute to back pain. Incorporating stretches into your routine can alleviate or even prevent this back pain. Easing back pain and loosening those muscles can be a beneficial part of unwinding before bedtime.

Seated Lower Back Stretch:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs comfortably spread apart, keeping your knees straight but not locked.
  2. Rest both hands on top of your right knee.
  3. Slowly reach your hands toward your right ankle.
  4. Hold the stretch at a comfortable position for 10 seconds.
  5. Slowly return to your starting position.
  6. Repeat the stretch on the left side.
  7. Perform the stretch 10 times per leg.

Reclined Lower Back Stretch:

  1. Lie on your back on a flat surface.
  2. Place both hands behind your right knee.
  3. Bring your right knee to your chest and hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly return your leg to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the stretch with your left knee.
  6. Perform the stretch 10 times.

Stretching to the sky - stretches to help sleep

Stretching Towards the Sky

The overhead stretch targets muscles in the upper body, shoulders, and arms, providing a soothing effect before bedtime, thanks to its incorporation of deep-breathing techniques.

Overhead Stretch:

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair or stand, ensuring your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  2. Interlace your fingers and extend both hands over your head, reaching towards the ceiling.
  3. Inhale deeply, simultaneously contracting your stomach.
  4. Maintain the stretched position for a few seconds.
  5. Exhale slowly as you lower your arms back down.

Limb stretches to help sleep

Stretching Those Limbs

Leg cramps or tension bothering you in the evening or at night? Leg stretches before hitting the hay can work wonders. Your legs house various muscle groups, and here are some stretches to target them:

Balancing Quadricep and Thigh Stretch:

  1. Find a spot with a sturdy object for balance.
  2. Stand on your right leg and grab your left foot, keeping the knee pointed downward.
  3. Gently pull the left foot back toward your buttocks until you feel the stretch in the front of the left thigh.
  4. Hold the stretch for up to 20 seconds.
  5. Repeat the stretch with the right foot.

Hamstring Stretch:

  1. From a standing position, extend your right leg forward with the foot flexed.
  2. Bend the left knee and lean back slightly.
  3. Keep your pelvis forward and body upright.
  4. Hold the position for up to 20 seconds.
  5. Repeat the stretch on the left side.

Calf Stretch:

  1. Start in a standing position facing a wall.
  2. Take a step forward with your right foot and bend the right knee.
  3. Keep the left leg straight.
  4. Support yourself by bracing your hands against the wall, ensuring the heels of both feet remain on the floor.
  5. Bend the right knee until you feel a stretch along your left calf. For a deeper stretch, bend the knee more.
  6. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat the stretch with the left foot forward and left knee bent.
  8. Repeat the stretch four to five times on each leg.

Yoga poses to help sleep

Yoga Poses For Sleep

Child's Pose:

How to:

  1. Kneel on the bed, sitting back on your heels.
  2. Extend your arms in front and lower your chest toward the bed.
  3. Relax your forehead on the bed.


Stretches the hips, thighs, and lower back.

Calms the mind.

Forward Fold:

How to:

  1. Sit with your legs extended.
  2. Hinge at your hips and reach for your toes.
  3. Let your head hang and relax.


Relieves tension in the lower back.

Stretches the hamstrings.

Butterfly Stretch:

How to:

  1. Sit with your back straight and bring the soles of your feet together.
  2. Hold your feet and let your knees drop toward the bed.


Opens the hips.

Stretches the inner thighs.

Legs Up the Wall:

How to:

  1. Lie on your back and extend your legs up against the wall.
  2. Relax your arms by your sides.


Promotes relaxation.

Reduces leg and lower back tension.

Seated Forward Bend:

How to:

  1. Sit with your legs extended.
  2. Hinge at your hips and reach for your toes.


Stretches the spine and hamstrings.

Calms the nervous system.

Reclining Spinal Twist:

How to:

  1. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and drop them to one side.
  2. Extend your arms out to the sides.


Releases tension in the spine.

Stretches the back and shoulders.

Happy Baby Pose:

How to:

  1. Lie on your back, bring your knees to your chest, and grab the outer edges of your feet.
  2. Gently pull your knees toward the bed.


Stretches the inner thighs and hips.

Relieves lower back tension.

Standing Forward Bend:

How to:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hinge at your hips, reaching toward the bed.


Stretches the hamstrings and lower back.

Calms the mind.

Tips for a great stretch routine for sleep

Tips for the Ultimate Bedtime Stretch Session:

Breathe Deeply: Coordinate your stretches with slow, deep breaths to enhance relaxation.

Create a Routine: Establish a consistent bedtime stretching routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down.

Hold, Don't Bounce: Hold each stretch for at least 15-30 seconds, avoiding any bouncing movements.

Focus on Relaxation: Let go of the day's stresses as you stretch, focusing on relaxation and preparing for a restful sleep.

Remember, the key is to listen to your body. If a stretch feels uncomfortable, ease off a bit. Incorporate these bedtime stretches into your nightly routine, and you'll be on your way to a more relaxed, rejuvenating sleep. 

If you’re looking for even more tips to incorporate into your bedtime routine, including thought blocking and body scanning, check out our blog, Emergency Sleep Techniques

Up for a challenge?

Why not join us on our free Two Weeks to Better Sleep challenge? 

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