Try these five stretches to relax and ease body tension before bed

They'll take you less than 10 minutes and get you ready for a good night's sleep

Woman doing the mermaid stretch
(Image credit: Getty)

Some people can shut their eyes and be out like a light, despite what may have happened during their day. But for those of us with a busier mind, it can feel like it takes forever. The solution may be simple, you may just need to focus more on winding down before bed, and these five stretches will help you do just that while relieving any built-up tension in your body and mind.

The Hospital for Special Surgery says that stretching can also: “Improve blood flow and relieve muscle tension — both of which aid in muscle recovery and sleep quality.” When we stretch, our mind also focuses on our body and that particular movement, basically turning into an act of mindfulness, which studies have also shown can lead to a better night's sleep. (If you're completely new to stretching though, you should probably check out our beginner's stretch guide first.)

These stretches are very beginner-friendly, and you’ve only got five, so they’re not going to take you all night. Make sure you have something comfortable beneath you, like a yoga mat, as the comfier you are, the more it will help you relax (doing these on a hard wooden floor will probably have the opposite effect). We recommend doing each stretch for 10 reps, which will probably take you 10 minutes, if not less. Try to make sure there aren’t any distractions nearby and really try to focus on the movement itself to relieve your mind and body from any of the day’s stresses. Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Side neck pulls — place the palm of your hand over your head onto your opposite cheek and gently pull towards the same side as your hand.
  • Mermaid stretch — sit cross-legged on the floor, raise one arm, and gently bend over the opposite side. Keep the other hand placed on the floor. Return to starting position, then repeat on the other side.
  • Chest stretch — put your hands behind your back, interlace your fingers and push your chest forwards.
  • Seated side stretch — sit cross-legged on the floor, then extend one leg straight out to the side of you. Taking the opposite arm, lift it above your head and bend it across to your leg. Return and repeat on the other side.
  • Shoulder rolls — sit cross-legged and slowly roll your shoulders backwards for half of your required reps, then roll them forward for the remaining ones.

We hope these stretches have given you a little extra relief and that they contribute towards getting some better shut-eye. If you fancy some stretches for the morning, then check out this 10-minute full-body stretch. Otherwise, if you only have time for one, this is the 'world's greatest stretch', according to an expert.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.