"I Can't Sleep" Get Better Sleep With Some Nightly Stretches

Stretch Before You Snooze: Why it’s Important to Stretch Every Night before Bed

January 23, 2019 by KIMORA CHANEL2 COMMENTS

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO Stretching, it’s one of those things some people faithfully engage in and some don’t. But first… Do you stretch every single day? Or maybe at least once a week? Are you a stretcher? I have a better question, one that may be easier to answer. When was the last time you stretched?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions stated above, and you can’t recall the last time you stretched, we need to have a serious talk. Let me start off by saying that I too do not stretch as often as I should and would like to, but since incorporating stretching into my daily nighttime routine I am finding it easier to do so. Like for most of you, the day gets very busy for me, very quickly. I get lost in all the chaos and distractions, and by the time the night rolls around all I want to do is go to bed, rest up, and get in a good headspace to start the next day on the right foot. As a result of this I use to work out during the day and end my day literally just plopping into bed. It’s life. It’s happens. I’m not judging, I hope you’re not judging, because at the end of the day we’re only human. So it’s all gravy here!

However, it’s no excuse to not take that extra five minutes of your day to show your body, especially your muscles, some TLC at least once during the day. It’s taken me years to understand that, and about 2 years of hardcore dedication to drill it through my thick skull. It is because of my discipline when it comes to stretching that I’m sharing my knowledge about the importance of stretching with you! I’m here to help you solve that problem of not stretching, and to do my best to guide you in the right direction of showing your body the necessary love and attention that it NEEDS at the end of every single day. In this post you will learn…

  • The benefits of stretching

  • Why stretching every night before going to bed is super important

  • The best stretches you should add to your nightly wellness routine

  • And how to make stretching a daily (or nightly) part of your wellness routine

Ready? Then let’s get started! The benefits of stretching First things first, I bet you’re wondering why stretching is so important. Stretching encourages your muscles to remain flexible, strong, and above all healthy. Have you ever wondered why babies and little toddlers are so flexible? It’s because of all the movement they get in during the day. They’re constantly stretching their limbs this way and that way, bending over, doing backflips, and pushing their bodies to the limit. It is because of such activities that every single muscle in their body is being stretched and trained to be flexible. That movement also helps them build muscle in those specific body areas, and naturally it’s the strength and the flexibility of those muscles that allows them to be able to move the way that they move.

Flexibility is important because it contributes greatly to our range of motion. When we stretch we are lengthening our muscles. Like reaching for a glass of water. That requires you to lengthen your arm, and the movement of reaching for it, taking a sip, and putting it back without strain, is your range of motion.

When we fail to stretch we are allowing the opposite effect to take place, which is the shortening and tightening of our muscles which contributes to a shorter range of motion. So again like reaching for a glass of water but instead of stretching your arm out completely, you stretch it out halfway before your muscles begin to ache and you retreat your arm. The lack of stretching has shortened your range of motion.

When this happens we will experience pain in our joints, and when we flex or work a muscle we haven’t used in a while, or don’t use that often we may experience muscle strains. More importantly when we fail to stretch on a consistent basis, and we don’t keep our muscles healthy and strong, in severe cases we can experience muscle damage. Which is something that you don’t want! When this happens we have either stained, pulled, or tore a muscle that is attached to our tendons (tendons = the connection of our muscles to our bones that assist us in proper functioning of each limb). The bad news is, when you cause serious muscle damage to your body, during the healing process scar tissue will form over the muscle (under your skin). While our muscles will eventually regenerate over time, that scar tissue will unfortunately leave a lasting impression on your body. The good news is that muscle damage can be reversed! Usually this will either require physical therapy, prescription drugs, or in less serious conditions, stretching of the limbs.

So just avoid all this stress, anxiety, and worry that may be starting to build up in your mind over the idea of muscle damage, by committing to make stretching a regular part of your wellness routine. Starting now! Why stretching every night before going to bed is super important Second things second (that’s a thing right?), there is no right or wrong, less effective or more effective, time of day to stretch. You can stretch in the morning when you wake up, or in the afternoon when you get a little bit of free time (if you’re able to do so). Or you can even do what I like to do and stretch every night before you go to bed. It’s really all a matter of personal preference and during what time of day when you will have the time to be present in the moment of stretching.

Trust me, you are going to want to provide your undivided attention to any stretching routine you may do. This will help in ensuring that you are not only doing the stretch move correctly, but that you are not forcing your body to move in a way that doesn’t seem, look, or feel natural. The more you stretch and develop a routine that works for you, the easier it will be for you to stretch effectively and engage in conversation. But until then you need to provide your undivided attention. There are a couple of reasons why I personally choose to stretch every night before going to bed. Stretching relaxes the body, contributes to injury reduction (which is great for us clumsy people), and helps you sleep at night. I do a lot of movement during my day. While I would like to say this movement is a result of getting plenty of exercise the truth of the matter is that it is not…at least not entirely.

A lot of my movement during the day is the result of chasing a one-year-old around the house all day, keeping up with two dogs throughout the day (one is 2 years old the other is 7 months), cleaning, cooking, doing laundry (which requires me to go up and down the stairs A LOT), running in and out of the house to drive/let the dogs out/take out trash/etc., and of course getting in at least 15 minutes of exercise during the day. While I most certainly am not complaining about the very busy and tiring days I have most of the time, I’d be lying if I said all that movement didn’t work my muscles like there was no tomorrow…because they do! It is because of all this movement that I do during the day, and the few health benefits of stretching in general, that I choose to stretch every night before going to bed. Whether your day is just as busy, busier, or less busier than my day-to-day may be, I still think it’s important to make stretching a nightly routine for you. It will help you calm and relax your muscles. This will prevent you from going to bed with any body aches, muscles strains, or cramping anywhere on your body. It will decrease your chances of getting injured simply because you are taking the necessary time to stretch and flex your muscles after working them all day. If you tend to sleep and remain in one position during  the entire night (like me), then it is really important that you are stretching your muscles before bed. This will ensure that you are relieving your muscles of any pain and not harboring it  all in your body during your 8 hours (give or take) of sleep. Finally, it will help you sleep at night because your body and your mind will be relaxed. You won’t be carrying the lingering activities from the day with you to bed. Instead, you will be taking the time to decompress, to pre-set your body for a reset (which happens during sleep), and to ensure that your muscles are not holding any tension anywhere. This will also significantly decrease your chances of limiting or shortening your range of motion, which as we learned is very important! The best stretches you should add to your nightly wellness routine So by now I bet you’re wondering what the best stretches to add to your nightly wellness routine may be? Well to be honest there are a ton of stretches that you could add to your nightly wellness routine, but like I mentioned earlier it’s all a matter of personal preference. To help get you started I’ve listed my favorite stretches to do every night before, with a short description about how to do the stretch, target areas, and how long I usually hold the stretch for. If you’re curious to know, or would like to incorporate these specific stretches into your nightly wellness routine, then continue reading. If you already have an idea of some stretches you’d like to add to your nightly wellness routine, then feel free to skip down to the section about how you can make stretching a daily (or nightly) part of your wellness routine.

My Favorite Stretches to Do Every Night! 1. Uttanasana…Standing Forward Fold How to do the stretch: Stand tall with your feet hips length apart. Slowly fold over, bending at  the torso (if you’re able to keep your legs straight, if not slightly bend the knees), with your arms reaching towards the ground. To give yourself support you can either gently grab onto your ankles, or rest your hands behind your knees, otherwise place your palms firmly on the ground on either side of your feet. Your crown, or head, should be parallel to your legs facing the ground. Target areas: This targets your back and your neck. From time to time I also like to add a gentle sway (back and forth) while bent over. This helps to release tension in your hips and legs. How long I hold the stretch: I usually hold this stretch for about 15 seconds. If I feel I may  need to hold for a longer period of time I will do so for 30 seconds.

2. Paschimottanasana…Seated Forward Fold How to do the stretch: Sit down your yoga mat, floor, or bed with your legs stretched out in  front of you, back straight. Flex your feet up towards your and slowly bend forward from your hips, with your arms stretched out by your sides (resting on the mat) reaching towards your toes. Target areas: This targets your hamstrings and your calves How long I hold the stretch: No longer than 15 seconds I find it hard for me to breathe in this  pose haha. 3. Ananda Balasana…Happy Baby Pose How to do the stretch: I love this pose. Lie on your back, lift your legs with your feet in front of you (you should be looking at your feet), and bend your knees. Flex your feet towards the sky, cup your pointer finger of each hand around your big toe, gently pulling your legs (and bending knees) as close to your body as you comfortably can. Slightly rock from left to right holding this position. Target areas: This targets your spine, groin, and hips. What I love most about this pose is that it  lengthens your spine while stretching your groin. The Happy Baby Pose is also a great stress and anxiety reliever. How long I hold the stretch: Usually 15 seconds but on a day when I need it most I’ll be brave  and hold for a minute!

4. Savasana…Corpse Pose How to do the stretch: The easiest one of them all! Simply lie down on your back with your arms placed out besides you with your palms up, and your legs stretched out in front of you. You should look as though you are resting your body on the ground, like a “corpse”. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, nothing else. Target areas: Your mind! This is why I love it so much and make a point to do it last in my  nightly wellness routine. In this pose you essentially let go of all the stressors of the day. You don’t make yourself feel bad or hold yourself accountable for what was not able to get done during the day. Instead, you let it go, set it free to the world, and allow yourself to reset. How long I hold the stretch: Since this pose requires absolutely no movement what so ever I usually let this pose be the longest one for me. I focus all my attention on my breathing and remain in this pose until my breathing has slowed down and picked up a consistent and steady rhythm. Therefore, I remain in this pose for about 2 minutes. Total nightly wellness routine: anywhere from 1 minute and 45 seconds to 3 minutes and 45 seconds. ***I usually end up doing this for 3 minutes and 45 seconds, but on days when I am completely burnt out I aim for at least 1 minutes and 45 seconds. How to make stretching a daily (or nightly) part of your wellness routine. Now comes the thing you have probably been looking forward to learning the most. You’ve learned the importance of stretching, why I prefer to stretch at night before bed, and my favorite and most effective nightly stretches. However, you may still be wondering one last thing.

How do you make stretching a consistent part of your wellness routine? To be honest the answer is really simple. You have to discipline yourself to commit to participating in the stretches every night. Yes, in the beginning you are going to half-ass it. You will have this tired mindset that all you want to do is go straight to bed, and for a while this is exactly what you will do. However, one day you will choose to challenge yourself to participate in one last battle for the day, and will you rise to the occasion. You’ll start out making the routine as short and as quick as possible, but you will soon come to learn that you enjoy doing this routine, and you love the way it makes you feel. Naturally you will begin to participate in this routine a little bit longer with each passing day. The most important thing is to just DO IT every single night before going to bed. Start out with only 10 seconds per pose and slowly increase your time as you become more comfortable with the routine.

The more you do it, the more natural this part of your day (or night) will become consistent for you. After a while it will be the one that you are looking forward to participating in the most. So it’s all a natural process that simply requires commitment and discipline on your end.

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Here’s a short recap of what we covered…

  • The benefits of stretching

  • Why stretching every night before going to bed is super important

  • The best stretches you should add to your nightly wellness routine

  • And how to make stretching a daily (or nightly) part of your wellness routine.

What do you think? Are you ready to make stretching a consist part of your nightly wellness routine? Original Post

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