Physiotherapist and master Pilates instructor Chloe de Winter shares her tips for ultimate zzz’s.
Who wants the secret to your best night’s sleep? No, it’s not a hot cup of milk.. or a quick read (although people do swear by these).
If you’re someone who struggles to get the shut-eye you need, take it from me – a big stretch is the answer.
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Your body needs to feel relaxed in order to fall asleep. A pre-bed routine can help loosen out your body, alleviate tension in the muscles, and help you disconnect from outside stresses.
The trick is to focus on what your body is feeling and on your breath. Only then can your mind begin to relax.
I’ve created dozens of stretch classes on Go Chlo Pilates – here are my favourite moves.
Your new night-time routine
Hands up if you sit at a desk all day for work? You probably have tight hip flexors and hamstrings, maybe even a little stiffness in your shoulders and upper back.
This relaxing sequence will have you feeling loose-y goose-y in no time. You can do these on a mat, or even on your bed. Just make sure you have your pillow handy.
Hanging like a rag-doll has never felt so good. This stretch this simple and effective – allowing you to release the build-up of tension in your spine, neck and head. Plus, your hammys will get a nice little stretch too.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Nod your chin to your chest and continue the movement, rolling your spine forward towards the floor with your hands reached out in front
- In this position you can grab your elbows with opposite hands, and make sure to maintain a slight bend in the knee
- Hold for 10 deep breaths, then slowly roll back up to standing
Cat and Cow
We all know this one. The oh-so-satisfying spinal bend, that really helps free up stiffness in the joints.
- Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips
- Spread your fingers wide and untuck the toes, so the top of your foot is flat on the floor
- Drop your belly down, arch your spine and lift your gaze – this is the cat stretch
- Then, reverse the direction by tucking in your tailbone, rolling your chin to your chest and rounding your spine up towards the sky – this is the cow part.
- Continue to move through these stretches, inhaling to arch and exhaling to round
- Repeat 15 times
Figure 4 Stretch
A deep stretch that opens the hips and stretches out your glutes.
- Begin laying on your back with your knees bent and your head supported by a pillow
- Cross your left foot over your right thigh and let your left knee hang out – it will look like the number 4!
- Grab the back of your right thigh and interlace the fingers behind it, drawing the shape towards the chest
- Hold this stretch for 10 slow, deep breaths and then switch to the other side
Let’s be honest. This is everyone’s favourite yoga pose. We all love that moment at the end of the class – and that’s exactly why you should give it a go just before bed. It stretches your spine and hips, and is a full body relaxation pose.
- Begin on your knees and open them wide
- Draw your toes together behind you so they are now in a triangle shape, then sit down onto your heels as far as you can
- Fold your body forward and walk your hands out in front of you
- Allow your head to relax down onto the mat, let your body fully relax, and start to slow your breathing
- Hold this stretch for 10 slow, deep breaths
This one is bliss for a tight back. It unlocks your spine and let’s your body sink into a happy sleep.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and together
- Roll onto your left hip, then allow your knees to fall to the left
- Open your arms out wide and turn your head to the right, so you are facing the opposite direction to your knee.
- In this pose, try if you can to draw your right shoulder down towards the floor for a bigger stretch
- Close your eyes and hold the stretch for 10 deep breaths, then switch to the other side
Chloe de Winter is a physiotherapist, master Pilates instructor and founder of online Pilates studio Go Chlo Pilates. Access a huge library of expertly designed Pilates classes at Go Chlo Pilates today, or follow her on Instagram @gochlo_pilates.
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