Something very different from me this week, and not necessarily yoga-centric (for once)! As somebody that has suffered from extreme lack of sleep in the past and occasionally in the present, we at Keep Fit Kingdom thought it would be interesting to research into whether physical exercises and stretches could actually improve getting your head down at night. Gentle movement raises the temperature of your body and then drops it, which relaxes your body and muscles. Along with not staring at your phone (or any screen) for at least an hour before going to bed, not having a midnight snack and refraining from drinking a glass of wine, here are 5 great exercises to help you sleep and drift off!
1. Sleeping Swan
You may want to use a pillow (optional) and should probably have the desire to really, really want to go to sleep. It is essentially a pose that you will use when you are asleep anyway, which helps to get your body into the right mindset. Kneel on the floor, atop a rug or blanket, with your hands on the pillow. Slowly lower your chest to the floor, stretching your arms out with your head on the pillow, and extend one of your legs behind you. Breathe deeply and when it feels comfortable, switch legs.
2. Gentle Sit-ups
Working out your core before you sleep could be one of the best ways to tire out your body, without raising your heart-rate. Position yourself on a blanket to ensure that you do not hurt your back, and slowly ease in and out of the exercise. Not only will this help to tighten your tummy, but will ensure that your body temperature rises and falls enough to relax your body into sleeping mode.
3. Butterfly Stretches
A great stretch to lull your body into a state of ease is the butterfly stretch. Sit on the floor, on a rug or blanket, with your feet pressed together (not to the point of discomfort, only do what you feel comfortable with) and holding your ankles, gently lean forward. Breathe deeply inwards and outwards as you lean, as this will lower your heart-rate in time for a good night’s sleep.
4. Standing Forward Fold
Stand on your yoga mat (or just the floor if you do not have one, but ensure that you will not slip) and plant your feet. Very slowly and gently, fold your torso over until your hands are touching the floor by your toes. Breathe in deeply and exhale for ten seconds, hanging in this pose, and then release. Increasing the blood flow to the head relieves tension caused by staring at screens or writing all day.
5. Lizard Pose
Beginning in the cobra pose (lying on your stomach and pushing your torso upwards) slowly and gently reach your right or leg forward into a lunge position, but only one that feels comfortable! Hold this stance for ten seconds, breathing deeply, and then switch to the other leg. If you have been sat hunched over at a desk all day, this pose helps to stretch out your hips and legs. This means that they won’t be too stiff causing discomfort while you’re turning in your sleep.
So there you have it, a varied platter of simple exercises and stretches to complete if you’re feeling restless. Switch off Netflix, your phone, and jump into your pyjamas with a steaming cup of Chamomile tea. Thank me later.