Self Care

How to Start an Evening Stretch Routine For Better Sleep

Because even adults could benefit from an evening routine.

By: Nicole Teitler

Feel like all of the things you have on your mind before you hit the hay is starting to interfere with your sleep? You’re not alone. According to the CDC, nearly one third of US adults report that they aren’t getting enough sleep each night. So, if you struggle to get enough shut-eye each night, it may be time to revamp your evening routine. One of our favorite ways to unwind at night is with a stretching routine. It’s a great way to relax the mind and body before heading to bed, which may ultimately help you get more zzz’s. 

 RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Sleep 

The Benefits of an Evening Stretch Routine 

Besides the fact that establishing an evening routine, in general, has been shown to help support sleep, an evening stretch routine may be especially beneficial, thanks to the number of benefits that come with stretching. 

Stretching has been shown to help support muscle flexibility and may help decrease muscle tightness — getting a good neck stretch in before bed may help make the pillow seem more comfortable! 

With your evening stretch routine, you can also incorporate some breathwork, preparing your mind and body for sleep. 

How to Start Your Evening Stretching Routine 

Before you start a new stretching routine, it’s important to lay some groundwork — literally — as with any new wellness routine, in order to maintain consistency, it helps to first create a space you look forward to being in. This way, you’ll be eager to return to it. 

First, grab either your yoga mat or any soft surface to stretch on. Next, try diffusing a calming scent like lavender in an oil diffuser. 

The Sleep Foundation suggests lavender, rose, roman chamomile, jasmine, or ylang-ylang as great scent options for winding down.  

Finally, put on your favorite pajamas — your most comfortable set! Unlike gym clothes, which tend to hug us in for support, a stretching routine is about letting go of the day’s stress and feeling as comfy as possible. 

The Perfect Stretches For Your Evening Routine 

Melt Away Tension With A Neck Stretch

So many of us deal with neck tension, especially if we sit at a desk all day. So, the perfect addition to your evening stretch routine includes a basic neck stretch to just let go of that tightness from the day. 

Here’s how to do a basic neck stretch. 

Step #1

While sitting on a comfortable cushion, or even in your bed, take your left hand over to your right ear and gently stretch your neck by bringing your left ear to your left shoulder. Hold for a few deep breaths — feel the tension melt away. 

Step #2

Repeat this on the right side. 

Relax in Child’s Pose  

Adding child’s pose to your evening stretching routine is a great way to promote relaxation. Child’s pose is also great for reducing any tension in the shoulders and even your neck that may have built up from the stress of the day.

Here’s how to add this stretch to your evening routine. 

Step #1

Start by kneeling on the floor, keeping your knees hip-width apart. Practice some deep breathing here just to center your mind and body.

Step #2

Bow forward, allowing your stomach to rest between your thighs, extending your arms out in front of you, palms facing down. Rest your forehead on the mat and just breathe. If this feels like a good stretch, you can stay here, or you can place your arms on the side of your body. 

Step #3

Stay in this pose for a few minutes, or for as long as it feels good, taking the time to practice some deep breathing. 

Legs Up On The Wall Pose 

Another great addition to your evening stretching routine is the legs up on the wall pose, which is a great one to help loosen up any tight muscles in the back. 

Here’s how to practice it. 

Step #1

Start by having the right side of your body up against a wall. 

Step #2

Start to lie gently on your back as you swing your legs up and on the wall. 

Step #3

If you feel like you need some added support, consider adding a cushion under your hips and find a comfortable position. 

Step #4

Just relax here and let go of any tension. Stay here for a few minutes or for as long as it feels comfortable. 

Guided Evening Stretch Routines 

Ready to get started? Try one of the various stretching exercises in the stretch category right in the FitOn app, including before-bed options. 

Try this Stretch to Restore class with Vytas to get started.  

Mobility, flexibility, and relaxation all-in-one. Add this to your evening routine to help relax the mind and body before bed. 

Optimize Your Evening Stretch Routine

Want to take your evening stretching routine up a notch? Here are some great props that make great additions to a relaxing evening routine.

Acupressure Mat: Want another way to help ease that tight neck tension? Consider an acupressure mat. Some studies have shown that acupressure may offer pain relief. One study looked specifically at the use of acupressure mats. The best part is that the mats are inexpensive and make an easy way to try out acupressure from home. 

Meditation Pillow: If you’re looking for an extra way to relax before bed, consider an evening meditation practice. This pillow serves as both a meditation pillow and also a great prop if you need some added support for your stretches. 

Essential Oil Diffuser: If you want to try adding some calming scents to your evening stretch routine, consider investing in an essential oil diffuser. 

Make Better Sleep a Priority 

With everything we have to balance all day, it’s hard to just jump into bed at the end of the day and fall right to sleep. Chances are, you aren’t going to sleep as well as you could if you don’t pause and take some time to wind down first. 

So, make the most of your evening routine by doing some stretching. It will be incredibly beneficial for both mind and body, and you may be shocked to see how much better you sleep each night. Plus, it counts as just a little extra daily self-care that all of us could benefit from. 

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