We know the benefits of stretching before or after a workout: relieved muscle tension, increased circulation, and better joint mobility. But getting in a round of stretching before bed can have additional benefits: stress relief, increased relaxation, and deeper sleep. A 2016 clinical review of sleep studies found that meditative movements improved sleep quality—and that improved sleep quality was linked to improved quality of life (though we know we’re preaching to the choir on this one).
Here are our favorite stretches to end the day. Holding each for around 30 seconds
Focus on taking deep, rhythmic breaths from your diaphragm through each. To help our mind wind down too, we like to count our breaths.
1. Start by lengthening your spine and sweeping your arms up above your head. Then, hinge over at the waist and touch your toes, keeping your head and upper body relaxed. If touching your toes is challenging, you can stand with your feet as far apart as is comfortable.
2. Kneel arms’ length from the edge of your bed, keeping your hips over your knees. Hinge forward at the waist and rest your arms on the top of the mattress, palms facing down.
3. Return to hands and knees, keeping your palms under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Then “thread” right arm under your left elbow so your right shoulder rests on the ground. Hold this for up to a minute, and then repeat on the other side.
4. Hinge forward into Child’s Pose—let your lower body rest on your legs, and stretch your arms ahead, palms down.
5. Lie on your back and rest your legs upright against the wall. Your hips can be flush with the wall or a few inches away. Hold this pose for a few minutes, or whatever feels comfortable.