7-Day Sleep Challenge: 9 Stretches to Do Before Bed

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

As part of your bedtime prep, try these easy stretches to get your mind and body ready for sleep

Keep up with the 7-Day Sleep Challenge here.

Although a vigorous workout in the hour before bed isn’t recommended, doing stretches at bedtime can be a significant way to improve sleep, which can also improve your level of alertness and mood during the day.

For example, one study found that older adults reported improved sleep quality when they did gentle stretching before bed, and that included less difficulty falling asleep, waking up less often during the night, feeling more rested during the day, getting enough sleep overall, and less use of sleep medication.

According to the American Council on Exercise, stretching in general has other major benefits like decreased muscle stiffness, increased range of motion, lower stress, and better circulation, as well as decreased risk of low-back pain.

How to Use These Bedtime Stretches

Looking for ideas? Fitness expert Larysa DiDio offers these nine moves.

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:

1. Figure Four

  • Start in a seated position on the ground or on your bed
  • Keep your right leg straight and bend the left leg so your foot is near your right knee or right thigh
  • Bring the arms up straight and bend forward toward the right leg
  • Use a towel or resistance band to pull your toes toward you if you can’t reach your foot
  • Try reaching your opposite arm forward and other arm back for a twist

2. Seated Spinal Twist

  • Keep your straight leg in the same position, and lift your left leg, crossing the foot over the right knee with your left knee up
  • Twist toward the left
  • You can use your right arm to “hook” the left knee as a way to deepen the stretch
  • If twisting bothers your back, omit it and use your hand to press on your knee
  • Switch legs and repeat

3. Butterfly

  • Bring your feet together with knees out to the side
  • You can gently press your knees down with your hands
  • Reach arms out for a gentle forward stretch

4. Cross-Leg Forward Fold

  • Cross your legs, sit up straight with chest up and shoulders back
  • Slowly walk your hands out so you’re bending forward and walk your hands over to one side, then walk them to the other side
  • Come back to center and stack your spine to sit back up

5. Reach Side to Side

  • Lift your left arm straight above you with right arm down on the ground
  • Twist gently toward the right
  • Switch sides

6. Upper Body Rotation

  • Bring your left hand down to your right knee and twist so you’re looking over your right shoulder, right hand is behind you on the ground for support
  • Switch sides

7. Chest to the Sky

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  • Still in a cross-leg position, bring both hands back behind you to stretch out your wrists and your chest
  • Lift the chest up and drop the head back slightly so you’re looking upward

8. Neck Press

  • Bring arms back to center, then take your right hand behind with arm bent so that hand is resting gently on your back
  • Drop your head toward your left shoulder and bring the left hand up to rest on your head for weight
  • Put both hands behind your head and let the head drop to center
  • Switch sides, with neck dropping toward your right shoulder and right hand resting on top

9. Upper Back, Shoulder, and Neck Release

  • Reach both arms out to the sides and then to the front, clasping your hands and rounding your back
  • Drop your head to release the neck
  • Bring the arms above you, lift the chest, then let the arms fall to your sides
  • Bring the left arm up to stretch, then right arm, for a gentle side stretch on each side
  • Clasp the arms behind you for one last stretch through the shoulders and chest

More Ways to Stretch Unwind: Three SilverSneakers Classes to Try

These stretches are a good starting point, but you’ll find many more options in our SilverSneakers classes. Some classes are even devoted to helping you increase your range of motion as a way to help you stay mobile and independent.

SilverSneakers Yoga takes you through a series of standing and seated poses and is good for all fitness levels. It’s offered at participating SilverSneakers fitness locations (review the gym’s schedule for exact times) and online through SilverSneakers LIVE. If you’re more familiar with yoga, you may want to join our Yoga Flow class on SilverSneakers LIVE.

Another class that you can try online is Gentle Stretch Express. In this 15-minute class, you’ll move your body through a series of seated stretches to increase mobility and range of motion. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here.

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