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Exercises for sleep featured image

Exercises for sleep

Exercises for better sleep

The benefits of exercise go beyond just weight loss and competing in athletic events. Regular exercise helps you sleep better. However, what exercise you do and when you do it can affect how quickly and how soundly you sleep.

While there is no one ideal time to exercise, it’s generally acknowledged to avoid strenuous exercise just before bedtime. Working out can energize your system rather than relax it.

Furthermore, your body temperature remains elevated up to 4 hours after you exercise. This extra heat can hinder the body’s messages to begin to fall asleep.

However, you are encouraged to move your body through a light stretch or yoga routine, moving slowly, with a slow breathing pattern to support your body’s movement toward sleep.


Bedtime moves

Child’s pose in yoga is a great stretch, which is used as a rest during even the most intense yoga routine. If you sleep on your back or stomach any time during the night, you'll want to incorporate this pose into a regular routine to counteract what happens to your body while you sleep.

This pose stretches the low back and opens the hips. When you widen your knees, you can drop lower into the post. 

childs pose helps back sleepers

From a kneeling position on your bed, touch your big toes together. Then sit on your heels. Next, separate your knees about as wide as your hips. As you exhale, lie with your your torso down between your thighs. Place your hands either reaching out above your head, palms down, or on the bed beside your legs, palms up. Be sure to relax your shoulders. Hold for 5 minutes or as long as it’s comfortable.  

Next, roll onto your back and bring your knees into your chest, angled toward your armpits. Hold for several long breaths. Then push you knees away, and stretch your legs out straight. Let your feet drop away from each other, and turn your palms up. This is corpse pose. This leads into the breathing exercise.


Bedtime breathing

Try this breathing exercise before bed and when you cannot sleep. It’s called the Long Exhale, and it has a 1:2 ratio of inhalation to exhalation. It is a breathing practice, which means you can perform this exercise regularly, slowly increasing your exhalation until it reaches double the length of your inhalation.

This exercise relaxes the nervous system. It can reduce insomnia, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.

You may begin while in corpse pose or you can position yourself on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the floor, approximately hip-width apart. Rest the palm of one hand on your belly and take a few relaxed breaths, mentally counting the length of each inhalation and exhalation for a few breaths. Take a moment and allow inhalation to equal exhalation.

Once your inhalation and exhalation are the same length, gradually exhale longer, by 1 to 2 seconds. Gently contract your belly, and if your breath remains relaxed, continue to gradually increase exhalation by 1 to 2 seconds once every few breaths.

Remember to not strain during exhalation and not to go beyond double the length of inhalation. For example, if inhale comfortably for 4 seconds, your exhalation should not go beyond 8 seconds.

Furthermore, even an exhalation that is only a little longer than the inhalation can produce relaxation and a sense of calm.

Complete your exercise with 6 to 10 relaxed, natural breaths.

These exercises along with the right bedding environment can help you sleep better, from falling asleep faster, to staying asleep longer and sleeping more deeply.

Give these gentle exercises a go, and let us know how you do.

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