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  • Writer's pictureAlison @ BodySoulMovement

Unlocking the Power of Bedtime Stretches: How to Improve Sleep Quality.

Updated: May 13

In today's fast-paced world, getting a good night's sleep can be the goal of the day. 

Sleep is our natural reset. A pause from our hectic lives, juggling all the things as we are pulled in multiple directions. 

However, what happens if sleep is hard to come by? 

We may find it hard to relax, because our minds are racing, we are still writing our mental to-do list, or crushing ourselves because of the things we haven’t done, yet. 

When this happens, it can be tricky to settle into sleep. We lie in bed and rather than dropping into a dream world, we get that sinking feeling of being wide awake when we should be in the land of nod.

One way to help encourage sleep is to get out of our heads, and into our bodies with some gentle pilates movements to stretch out our bodies before bedtime.

Bedtime stretches – the unsung heroines of a good night's sleep. 

Here's why I'm all about incorporating a mini pilates stretch session into my pre-sleep routine to help me unwind, relax my muscles, and prepare my body and mind for restful sleep.

Not only can this be brilliant for my body, it’s great for my mental well being too. 

Let’s delve into the advantages of this night time ritual.

Relieves Muscle Tension

Throughout the day, our bodies accumulate tension and stress, especially in the neck, shoulders, and lower back.

Maybe you’ve been sitting in endless meetings, stuck at your desk all day, running around after your kids, shopping or even doing a heavy workout. 

Bedtime stretches are like a gentle hug for those tired muscles, coaxing them into a state of relaxation and bliss. 

They help release tension, reducing the risk of discomfort or pain interfering with your sleep.

Improves Flexibility 

Consistent stretching before bed can gradually enhance your flexibility and range of motion. As we age, our hormone levels fluctuate; and it becomes more important to keep our bodies limber. 

Gentle stretching encourages greater elasticity and mobility in your muscles, making it easier to move freely and preventing stiffness upon waking.

I like to think of Bedtime stretches as a gift we give ourselves, helping us maintain our youthful agility.

Enhances Circulation

Circulation is the unsung hero of overall health and well-being, giving our body what it needs to thrive. Stretching exercises stimulate blood flow throughout our body, including muscles and joints

By incorporating a few simple stretches before bed, we are improving our circulation ensuring that vital nutrients and oxygen reach our tissues, promoting tissue repair and regeneration while aiding in the removal of metabolic waste products. 

Enhancing our circulation can also contribute to a sense of relaxation and calmness, setting the stage for a peaceful night's sleep.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

A bedtime stretching routine gives us the opportunity to unwind from the day. 

Gentle, rhythmic movements coupled with mindful breathing promote relaxation, calm the nervous system, and reduce levels of stress hormones. 

Picture this: sinking into bed, closing your eyes, and letting all the worries of the day melt away as you sink deeper into each stretch. What bliss?

Promotes Mind-Body Connection: 

Stretching before bed provides an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness and deepen the connection between your body and mind. 

In a world that constantly pulls us in a million different directions, taking a few moments before bed to reconnect with ourselves is an absolute game-changer. 

Bedtime stretches offer us a chance to slow down, breathe deeply, and tune into the whispers of our bodies.

Alleviates Insomnia Symptoms: 

For those struggling with insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, incorporating bedtime stretches into their nightly routine can be a natural and effective remedy. 

A 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry looked at both resistance exercises and stretching, and found that both helped the participants.

The combination of physical relaxation and mental calmness induced by stretching can help quiet the mind, reduce sleep onset latency, and improve overall sleep quality.

My guide on pilates-focused resistance training exercises for aiding insomnia will be released soon for you to try out. 

Prevents Nighttime Cramps and Discomfort: 

Stretching before bed can help prevent nocturnal muscle cramps and alleviate discomfort caused by tight muscles or poor posture. 

A 2012 study by the Australian physiotherapy association showed that within 6 weeks, the frequency & severity of nighttime cramps reduced significantly for adults aged over 55.

Targeting specific muscle groups, such as the calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors, can reduce the likelihood of waking up with painful cramps or experiencing disruptions to your sleep.

Enhances Sleep Quality: 

Studies show that sleep quality is improved by incorporating bedtime stretches into your nightly routine.

By promoting relaxation, reducing muscle tension, and calming the mind, stretching sets the stage for deeper, more restorative sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Incorporating bedtime stretches into your nightly routine is such a simple hack to improve this essential part of our day. 

What can I do next?

Whether you're a dedicated mover or a novice to stretching, taking just a few minutes each night to unwind with some gentle stretches can make a world of difference in your sleep quality and overall well-being. 

So, the next time you're preparing for bed, why not indulge in some soothing stretches to help you drift off into dreamland? 

Sign up for updates as my soon-to-be-published guide to simple night time stretches will help you find a selection that will work for you.

These exercises are accessible to everyone as they can be performed in the comfort of your own bedroom, or even in bed.

Your body and mind will thank you for it.

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