Though he spent most of his time on camera, covering major sports events, Nick’s life-long dream was to become a sports columnist. Today, Nick researches and covers workout routines, exercise-related tips and tricks and sports diets. In need of an effective training routine? Look no further than Nick’s articles.+ info
In these stressful times, relaxing exercises can help you improve your sleep quality, its amount, and your overall routine. Stretching and meditating before going to bed can boost relaxation feelings that'll help you fall asleep faster, better, and for longer. Check these 4 exercises to try before bed to calm yourself and improve your sleep!
1. Relax your shoulders and lower back
During the day, you've likely accumulated tension on your shoulders and lower back. To loosen these muscles, try this exercise. Place your wrists and knees under your shoulders and hips, respectively, to form a tabletop position. Slowly and deeply, inhale and raise your arm to the sky with your palm facing outwards. As you exhale, sweep your arm under your chest while lowering the same shoulder to the ground.
Let your cheek and hand rest on the ground, with the palm facing the sky, for five breaths. To return to the initial position, do a gentle counter twist by sweeping your hand back towards the sky while deeply inhaling. Exhale while you return to the tabletop position. Then, repeat the whole movement with the other side of your body.
2. Improve your posture and open your chest
A bad posture can be the cause of many different problems related to your mood, your blood circulation, and even your breathing. That's why it's key to prevent these issues with exercises like this one, which help improve your posture. To begin with, you'll need two tennis balls that you can put inside a sock to prevent them from rolling away. Lie on your back with these balls under your body, between your shoulder blades. Your feet, head, and arms should be resting on the floor, the last ones to either side of your head, bent in a cactus-like shape. In this position (don't forget to bend your knees!), take three to five deep breaths.
The next step is hugging yourself with your arms by crossing one over the other over your chest. Switch the order a few times, resting one on top of the other and then doing so in the opposite order. When you finish, inhale and gently extend your arms over your head. Then, move them on the floor so that your elbows reach your waist -as if you were making snow angels. Repeat this three to five times and then raise your hips to roll the tennis balls a few inches down your spine. Repeat from the top (hugs, snow angels, ball rolls) until the balls reach your mid-back.
3. Combat the effects of standing up for too long
Spending a good portion of your day standing up can bring your body many problems, including cramps and swelling. This can be relieved and prevented with this exercise, meant to stretch the hamstrings and soothe your lower back muscles. For the initial position, lie on your back and rest your legs on a wall, forming an L shape with your body against the wall. If you feel pain due to tight hamstrings, rest your hips some inches from the wall or bend your knees slightly.
Extend your arms to both sides of your head to form a straight line from one hand to the other that connects your elbows and shoulders. With your left hand, use the index to close your left nostril and take five to ten slow and deep breaths through your right nostril. Then, return your arm to your side and breathe through both nostrils. This will help your body lower its temperature, blood pressure, and anxiety.
4. Clear your mind and relax your body
Right before going to sleep, a clear mind will help you fall asleep faster and will improve your sleep quality. After a difficult day, it can seem hard to unwind and let your thoughts go, but you can take measures to calm yourself. Once you're in bed, rest your back on it and place your hands on your belly in a comfortable position.
Start by closing your eyes and inhaling through your nose for four seconds. Stay in the same position and hold your breath for four additional seconds. Then, release it fully for four seconds more. Once your belly is empty, wait for another four seconds before starting over and repeating the process for another three to five minutes.