We’re all looking for ways to improve our sleep quality and fall asleep faster, whether that’s investing in one of the best mattresses or trying strange TikTok sleep hacks. But, the answer might be even simpler than that. Several studies have shown that stretching before bed is an effective way to get better quality sleep.
According to Healthline, getting in touch with your body by stretching relieves muscle tensions and shakes off the stressors of the day. By focusing on your breathing and body while you stretch, this also helps promote better sleep as you’re more mindful and in tune with your body.
To help you sleep easier, try these 8 stretches before bed for a great night’s sleep. It’s up to you if you want to cherry pick from these stretches or do the full routine. If you decide to follow it all the way through, you should start from a standing position with stretches focused on your top half and end in a seated position with stretches concentrated on your lower half.
It’s also worth noting that if you experience any pain or discomfort with these stretches, stop doing them and if you have any serious issues, seek advice from a doctor. Now, on to the stretches!
1. Bear hug
The first move is a bear hug which targets the shoulders and arm muscles, specifically the trapezius and rhomboids in your upper back. This stretch helps alleviate shoulder pain and can improve your posture.
To do this stretch, start in a standing position and open your arms out wide. As you exhale, cross your arms, placing the right arm over the left and give yourself a hug. Your hands should be placed on or near your shoulder blades and as you breathe, you can use your hands to bring your shoulders forward for a deeper stretch. Hold before releasing and doing it again with your left arm on top of your right.
2. Standing side stretch
This next stretch is a side stretch which targets your shoulders, oblique muscles and hip flexors. It can be done sitting or standing, but we recommend standing if you can to make sure your hips really feel the stretch.
For the side stretch, stay standing and with your feet hip width apart. From there, bring your arms up, hold your right wrist with your left hand and lean your body to the left. Hold this position and you should feel a deep stretch down your side. To swap to the other side, come back to the middle, switch wrists and lean over to the other side.
3. Standing back stretch
Similar to the side stretch, the back stretch benefits your back, quads and hip flexors. It’s best achieved if you’re in a standing position as your quads will be more engaged.
This stretch starts in a similar position to the side stretch, with your feet hip width and your arms above your head. From there, lean back gently and reach up with your fingertips to open the front of your body and feel the stretch as you inhale. As you exhale, come out of the lean to the centre. Do this stretch a couple of times, focusing on your breathing and the motion as you do so.
4. Low lunge
Next, we’re moving down to the floor with a low lunge. A low lunge targets your hips, thighs and groin muscles, helping you relieve tension and pain. By keeping your chest up, this stretch should also stretch your back and shoulders too.
For the low lunge, start on your right hand side with your right foot below your right knee and your left leg extended back with your left knee on the floor. In this stretch, your legs should be closer to the floor than the 90-degree angle of normal lunges. Here, you can place both hands on either side of your right foot or lift them towards the ceiling. Hold this position while breathing deeply and opening your chest. Swap to the other side when you’re ready.
5. Thread the needle
Threading the needle is brilliant for stretching out your shoulders, upper back, glutes and quads. It’s also said to improve spinal rotation, which is great to do before bed as some sleep positions can cause stress on the spine due to misalignment. If you fancy improving your sleep posture, check out our tips for side sleepers, hacks for back sleepers and advice for front sleepers.
Start this stretch on all fours before taking your right arm and threading it through the right. Your right shoulder and arm should be lying across the ground with your shoulder away from your neck. With your left arm, reach it forward to feel the full stretch down your arm and back. If you feel any uncomfortable pulling, you could be stretching too far so relax a bit more. Focus on your breathing and come back to the centre on all fours before you swap to the other side.
6. Supine spinal twist
With this next stretch, you’re on your back for a supine spinal twist. This stretch focuses on the back, glutes, thighs and quads, and is brilliant for spinal mobility and relaxation.
For this stretch, lie on your back with your arms and legs extended. Bring your right leg up and into your chest while your left stays on the floor. Hold your leg for a few breaths before gently pulling it across your left leg. As you do this, extend your right arm out to the side, keeping your shoulders on the floor. For a deeper stretch, turn your head towards your arm. Hold this before switching sides.
7. Butterfly stretch
Up next, the butterfly pose focuses on stretching your inner thighs and lower back. As you’re in a seated position doing this stretch, concentrate on lengthening your back for better posture, and you might also feel the stretch in your groin if it's feeling particularly tight.
To do the butterfly stretch, sit cross legged on the floor. You can either fold your feet over one another or you can put the soles of your feet together. Relax your shoulders and rest your hands on your knees. Hold this position while focusing on maintaining your neck and spine, and taking deep breaths.
8. Child’s pose
Finish off your stretching routine with the child’s pose. One of the most relaxing yoga poses, child’s pose is a resting stretch which targets the neck, back and shoulders. It’s a great stretch to end on as it leaves you feeling relaxed and ready for bed.
For child’s pose, come down on your knees with your heels underneath your butt. Fold forward and rest your forehead on the floor before extending your arms out in front of you. During this stretch, you should feel any tight or sore areas in your back so be gentle if it starts to feel uncomfortable. This stretch can be held for 30 seconds up to 5 minutes. If you need extra support during this stretch, put a pillow under your forehead or thighs (see the best pillows for our top picks).
For more stretching advice, check out our beginner’s guide to the best stretching exercises and if you’re into yoga, try these 3 yoga poses to help you fall asleep quicker.