5 Stretches to Help You Sleep Better

Ever make the effort to get to bed at a decent hour only to experience a war of attrition with the clock on your nightstand? Its numbers silently tick away while you attempt to quell jumpy legs and a racing mind that pauses only to calculate how many hours you might still get if only you’d just fall asleep already.

If you’re (literally) tired of flicking off the lights and hoping for the best, try incorporating this quick series of stretches into your pre-bedtime routine. Stretching can help release muscle tension and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the branch of the nervous system that slows the heart rate and cues the body to relax.

You can do all of these pajama-friendly stretches in less than 10 minutes (a tiny investment for a solid eight hours of shut-eye).

Standing Forward Fold

This gentle stretch for the hips, hamstrings and calves is a good place to start. With a straight back and your feet hip-width apart, simply bend forward from the waist (not your hips), exhaling slowly. Feel free to bend your knees slightly if you experience any tightness in your back or hamstrings. If possible, bring your fingertips or palms to the floor, otherwise fold your arms at the elbows. With each inhale, lengthen your body from the waist. As you exhale, gently deepen the bend. After a minute or so of deep breathing, slowly come to a standing position by hinging at the waist and maintaining a flat back.

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