Tips to help you sleep
It’s well known that meditations at night can help you fall asleep more easily, but did you also know that it’s just as important to unwind the body as well as the mind before bed?
We all hold stress and worry in different parts of our body, some of us live in our heads where we worry, fret and overthink things, while others hold their daily tension in their back, shoulders or even stomach. Even the foods we eat can affect our ability to fall and stay asleep, so if you are having trouble getting a restful night it’s important to think about the physical body as well as calming the mind.
As long as you are in good physical health here are some stretches that you can try before bed to release some tension and help you fall asleep more quickly. Make sure you warm your muscles up before stretching by shaking your arms and legs before starting, to avoid injury. Try and hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds each and remember to breathe throughout each exercise.
- Touch your toes. It’s not even required to get all the way down – simply stretch your arms to the ceiling and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly roll your chest down towards your thighs, with your arms and hands relaxed and dropping towards the floor. Don’t strain or over stretch – you should just feel a gentle release in the lower back and hamstrings. Take a breath in and out while you are down then rise up vertebrae by vertebrae back to standing. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
- Seated toe-touch. Again it’s not necessary to actually reach your toes – don’t overstrain if you are not flexible enough to begin with. The more you practise the bigger range of stretch you will be able to achieve. Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you and your toes pointed to the sky. Take a deep breath in as you raise your hands to the ceiling, and as you breathe out bring your hands towards your toes, folding your chest towards your thighs as you go. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
- Knee to chest stretch. This is an easy exercise that you can even do lying in bed. Lie on your back with your legs straight out and gently pull one knee into your chest – holding on to your shin to pull down a bit further. Keep the other leg relaxed and comfortable. Keep breathing deeply and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Thigh stretch. This one can also be done lying in bed – lie on your back and extend one leg to the ceiling, trying not to arch your back too much. Gently hold your calf and pull the leg into your body, stretching the ham string. Keep breathing and hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then swap sides.
- Child’s pose. This is a simple yoga pose which is excellent for releasing tension in the lower back. Sit on the ground on your knees and stretch your arms to the ceiling, then lower your hands straight out in front of you onto the ground. Rest your forehead on the floor and stay there for at least 30 seconds, breathing deeply. As you get more relaxed you can creep your hands further away from your body, giving you an extra stretch through the shoulders.
Being mindful of your body just before bed and releasing any tensions that you find, can work wonders to help you get a restful night’s sleep. Don’t forget to also do some energising stretches when you wake up the next morning too.
We recommend that you check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.