Fitness

10 Stretches That'll Help Your Mind & Body Wind Down Before Bed

Get ready to zzz...

Updated: 
Originally Published: 
The best stretches to do before bed, according to trainers.
Jessie Casson/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Nothing’s better than a relaxing evening routine that helps you wind down before you drift off to sleep. Perhaps yours includes a cup of chamomile tea, a chill playlist, a meditation sesh, or an extensive skin care routine. All of these habits are legit, of course, but experts staunchly believe that your p.m. regimen should definitely include some stretching.

Stretching is always good for you, but doing it before bed has so many benefits, especially if you regularly experience pain or discomfort, says Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Origin. A few quick folds and twists can undo all the aches that built up during the day so you can feel like melted butter as you climb into bed. Rawlins says that the best stretches to do before bed are ones that focus on tight hips, stiff thighs, or an achy back, since these are the areas that gather the most tension.

Not only will a mellow stretching session help you feel more physically comfortable, but it’ll also help quiet a busy mind, says Julie Granger, a celebrity trainer and founder of The Studio Paris. A sleepy bedtime yoga routine is ideal for reducing stress and anxiety, and improving your mood, she tells Bustle — and that can also ultimately contribute to better sleep. Moving through some bendy poses will lower your heart rate and help you feel more mindful as you wind down for the evening.

Keep scrolling below for the 10 best stretches to try before bed, according to experts.

1. Supine Hamstring Stretch

zoranm/E+/Getty Images

After a long day, it’ll feel great to lean back and give your hamstrings a stretch, especially if you have lower back pain. According to Granger, tight hamstrings and lower back pain are directly related, so this move can help relieve any back aches you tend to feel upon getting out of bed in the morning.

- Lie on your back.

- Extend your right leg up to the ceiling, keeping your left leg long on the floor.

- Try to keep your hips even on the mat.

- Gently hold your leg and feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

- For a deeper stretch, loop a yoga strap or a towel around your right foot.

- Remember to breathe.

- Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

2. Legs Up The Wall

Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images

This restorative stretch will help open up tight hips, Granger says, which is an area that tends to store a lot of tension.

- Lie on your back with your legs resting up against a wall.

- Wiggle closer to the wall until your butt touches, too.

- Slowly let your legs open to the sides.

- If needed, place your hands on your outer thighs for support.

- Breathe mindfully.

- Stay for about two minutes.

3. Figure-4 Stretch

franckreporter/E+/Getty Images

A figure-four stretch is ideal after a workout, but can also be done before bed as a way to wash away the stress of the day, notes trainer Michael Hamlin, NCSA, CSCS.

- Lie on your back with your knees bent.

- Keep your feet flat on the floor or bed.

- Cross your right ankle over your left knee, forming a figure-four shape.

- Wrap your hands around your left knee as you gently pull your legs into your chest.

- Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.

4. World's Greatest Stretch

Capuski/E+/Getty Images

Rawlins says this single stretch moves your body through its full range of motion to reach your legs, hips, back, shoulders, and arms.

- Start in a tall plank.

- Step one foot forward so that it rests alongside your hand on the same side.

- Press your opposite hand into the ground for stability.

- Reach the hand that is next to your foot up towards the ceiling.

- Twist your body open towards your forward leg.

- Bring your gaze upwards towards your fingertips.

- Hold for at least 30 seconds before switching to repeat on the other side.

5. Hip Flexor Stretch

Eugenio Marongiu/Image Source/Getty Images

This is a good one to do if you’re already comfy in bed and don’t feel like getting up. As you do it, “you should feel a stretch in the front hip and thigh of the leg that is dangling,” Rawlins says.

- Lie on your back with your body close to the edge of the bed.

- Use your arms to hug the knee of your leg that is closest to the center of the bed towards your chest.

- Allow your other leg to drape over the edge of the bed and dangle toward the floor.

- Feel a stretch along the front of that hip.

- Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.

- Rotate your head to the other end of the bed and repeat on the other side.

6. Cat-Cow

Prasit photo/Moment/Getty Images

The cat-cow, which you may be familiar with from yoga, is a great way to mobilize your spine, Rawlins says.

- Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

- Inhale and allow your belly to drop towards the floor.

- Draw your shoulders away from your ears as you bring your gaze up towards the ceiling.

- Lift your tailbone and arch your back.

- Exhale and draw your belly up towards your spine.

- Push through your palms as though you’re trying to touch the ceiling with your mid-back.

- Tuck your tailbone and bring your chin to your chest, rounding your back upward.

- Hold either position for a few breaths before moving forward.

- Return to the starting position and repeat for several breaths.

7. Cobra Pose

Luis Alvarez/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Open up your chest, core, and hips with cobra pose, a stretch Rawlins recommends doing before bed.

- Lie face-down on a mat with your forehead resting on a small towel.

- Place your hands underneath your shoulders with your palms resting on the floor and your elbows in towards your rib cage.

- Press the tops of your feet into the floor as you lift your upper body off the ground.

- Push through your hands to fully straighten your elbows.

- Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your gaze forward.

- Hold this position and breathe deeply for several breaths.

- Slowly lower back to the starting position.

8. Piriformis Stretch

Guillermo Spelucin/Moment/Getty Images

This deep piriformis stretch will help up your outer hip muscles, Rawlins says. Try it on your couch as you read or watch TV.

- Sit with your feet flat on the floor.

- Lift one foot and rest it on top of your opposite knee.

- Keep your back straight.

- Lean your trunk forward, hinging at the hip.

- Apply gentle pressure downwards into your bent knee for a deeper stretch.

- Hold this position for at least 30 seconds before sitting upright and returning your foot to the floor.

- Repeat on the other side.

9. Child’s Pose

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

According to Hamlin, child’s pose allows you to relax and focus on your breathing. “There isn't much work to do here other than unwind before bed,” he tells Bustle. “Try this and you'll be ready for an amazing rest in no time.”

- Start on all fours.

- Slowly sit back and lower your hips toward your heels.

- Extend your arms forward.

- Rest your forehead on the bed or floor.

- Allow your chest to sink toward the ground.

- Hold the pose for 1 to 2 minutes, focusing on deep, steady breaths.

10. Thread The Needle

The Good Brigade/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Stretch out your upper body and mid-back with the thread the needle. “We severely lack upper body rotation during the day since most of us sit all day at work,” says Hamlin. “This stretch can help, and since it's on all fours, it will be fairly relaxing as well.”

- Begin on all fours.

- Slide your right arm under your left arm, reaching towards the left side.

- Allow your right shoulder and the side of the head to rest on the bed or floor.

- Reach to feel a stretch in your back.

- Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

- Switch sides.

Studies referenced:

Turmel, D. (2022). Tailored individual Yoga practice improves sleep quality, fatigue, anxiety, and depression in chronic insomnia disorder. BMC Psychiatry. doi: 10.1186/s12888-022-03936-w.

Experts:

Julie Granger, trainer, founder of The Studio Paris

Ashley Rawlins, PT, DPT, physical therapist at Origin

Michael Hamlin, NCSA, CSCS, trainer

This article was originally published on