7-Day Sleep Challenge: 5-Minute Tai Chi Bedtime Routine

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

In just a few minutes, you can harness the power of tai chi for better sleep.

Keep up with the 7-Day Sleep Challenge here.

There’s a reason that tai chi has lasted through centuries — this Chinese martial art involves graceful, flowing motions with a focus on steady, deep breaths and a meditative frame of mind.

According to the National Institutes of Health, research suggests tai chi can be particularly helpful for older people, with benefits like reduced back pain, better brain health, less osteoarthritis discomfort, and improved quality of life in people with heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

One study on the effects of tai chi in older adults with insomnia found the practice can bring significant changes in sleep efficiency. A regular tai chi practice alleviated even long-term sleep problems in study participants. Other research on the connection between tai chi and sleep found it can help with reducing the amount of times you wake up at night. It can even help you fall asleep faster.

Add SilverSneakers to your wellness routine. Classes and events are happening right now at participating gyms, online through SilverSneakers LIVE, and at community centers near you. Activate your free online account to get started.

How to Use the 5-Minute Tai Chi Bedtime Routine

The best thing about tai chi is that it’s such a gentle practice. “That means you can do it as part of your bedtime routine,” says senior fitness expert Larysa DiDio.

All you need are comfortable clothes and some open space to move freely. Press play and follow along as DiDio leads you through a few these simple moves to close out your day. Remember, it’s all about flow and ease when it comes to Tai Chi moves, she says. Be sure to slow down the moves and feel like you’re moving in a graceful, easy way.

Remember: Safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than your regular SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Here’s how to do each move:


  • Start standing, feet about hip-distance apart, both feet facing forward
  • Place one hand on your belly, the other hand on your heart
  • Take a big inhale and exhale
  • Relax your shoulders, then place your hands beside your hips with palms up and hands in loose fists
  • Release the fists so palms are flat, then gently move the hands up like you’re opening a window
  • When you get to your head flip your palms down and press back down like you’re closing the window
  • Repeat five more times in a controlled movement


Hug a Tree

  • Take arms out to the sides
  • Open arms and bring forward, as if you’re hugging a large tree
  • Gently bring arms back and to your sides
  • Repeat five more times


Push and Pull the Waves in Bow Stance

  • Transfer the weight onto your right leg and turn toward the right with left leg straight behind you, arms come up straight from your shoulders with palms up
  • Pull the arms back until palms are alongside your chest, bringing weight into back leg
  • Rotate hands so palms are facing forward, as if you’re about to push a wave away
  • Gently push forward and pull back
  • Repeat three times, then switch sides


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Glide Over the Water 

  • Come back to center with hands next to hips, palms up
  • Stretch the right hand toward the left side and gently twist toward the right with arm and palm outstretched
  • Switch direction, keeping your elbows in close
  • Think about gliding your hand floating or gliding in front of you


Float to the Sky 

  • Come back to center, float the arms up on either side
  • Bring the arms down with control, as if you’re a bird and your arms are your wings
  • Inhale to bring arms up, exhale to bring them down

Ready for More Tai Chi? Try a SilverSneakers Enerchi Class

Our beginner-friendly SilverSneakers Yoga class and the more advanced Yoga Flow class are two great ways to stretch your body and your mind. But if you enjoyed this brief taste of tai chi, you should try SilverSneakers Enerchi. You’ll perform modified tai chi forms in a slow, flowing sequence that will calm you and improve balance. It’s offered both in-person at participating SilverSneakers fitness locations (review the gym’s schedule for exact times), or online with SilverSneakers LIVE. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here.

Keep up with the 7-Day Sleep Challenge here.

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