Six Stretches to Promote Sleep

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

Whether you deal with troubled sleep from time-to-time or you are a full blown insomniac, some gentle stretches before bedtime can help you relax and make sleep easier to achieve. These moves can actually be done in your bed. No mats, music or sleeping pills needed. Just put on comfortable pajamas, turn off all lights and electronics, and let the soothing relaxation begin.

Stretch one (targets ribs and back)

First, sit upright on your bed cross-legged and place your hands on your thighs. Then, leaning back against the pillows and headboard, take a few minutes to do nothing but breathe. Finally, inhale and sit back up. Raise your left arm up over your head and lean to the right, holding for a few breaths. Return to center and repeat on the other side using your right arm.

Stretch two (targets ribs and back)

Twist your upper body to the left and exhale. You can use the headboard to hold onto as you twist. Hold the twist for a few breaths. Then return back to the forward position and repeat the process to the right.

Stretch three (targets hips, hamstrings, back)

Maintaining your cross-legged position, put your hands on your mattress and gently lean forward sliding your hands down the mattress in front of you. This will stretch out your hips and back. Stay in this position for a few deep breaths and focus on relaxing while breathing.

Stretch four (targets hamstrings, legs, lower back)

Sit up and extend your legs out in front of you, keeping your back flat and straight. Slightly bending the knees, exhale gently and reach for your toes. Hold this position for a few breaths. Next, exhale deeply and return to a seated position with knees slightly bent. Inhale. As you exhale, round your back and lower your body over your legs. Hold for a few breaths as you stretch your spine.

Stretch five (targets hamstrings, hips, middle back)

Lie on your back with your head on your pillow. Bring one knee into your chest and hug it. Stay in this position for a few deep breathes. This position loosens up your hips. Switch legs and repeat. Next, hug both knees into you and gently rock a bit from side to side. Make your movements match your breathing. Exhale as you rock to each side.

Stretch six (targets legs, hamstrings, quads)

Remain on your back with your head on your bed pillow. Extend one leg up toward the ceiling. Grab onto the leg wherever you can reach. Exhale and very gently pull your leg down toward your head. Hold the stretch for a few deep breaths and then release your leg back onto the bed. Repeat the stretch to the other leg.

Special note

These stretches are not supposed to be very intense. They should be done gently. The goal is to relax the muscles and body, not a workout. The intent is to undo any restrictions, which may have built up in the body over the day and to prepare the body for rest. By doing these stretches, you stimulate tissues and muscles at a cellular level, making sleep easier to achieve.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.