As you grow older, you may begin to notice that your joints are getting stiffer, that your muscles don’t stretch as easily as they used to, or that you wake up in the morning feeling sore instead of well-rested. All of these issues are symptoms of reduced mobility and can actually be a result of you how you sleep. In this article, we’ll look at how sleeping positions can affect your mobility and how stretching before bed can improve flexibility.
The positions in which you sleep have the power to affect your muscular and mental health. Sleeping in a recommended position can help you to reduce muscle pain, eliminate stiffness in joints, and wake up in the morning feeling rested and refreshed. Here are several important elements to consider when deciding how to sleep:
First, sleeping on your back can help your spine to decompress properly. New York chiropractor Steven Diament suggests that sleeping on your back helps your spine and neck to “remain in a neutral position” during the night. If your spine is elongated while you’re asleep, you should find it easier to stretch, twist, and perform other important movements during the day.
Second, sleeping with a pillow under your knees help you to maintain a good posture even while unconscious. If you choose to sleep on your back, you should place a pillow under your knees to make sure that your back remains straight. Supporting your knees takes pressure off your lower back muscles and allows them to fully relax. Maintaining a healthy posture while sleeping keeps you from “crunching” or constricting muscles during the night, which can lead to long-term improvement of mobility and flexibility.
Third, sleeping on your side is acceptable as long as you don’t overextend your back. Some people find it impossible to fall asleep while lying on their back. Even so, it’s possible to preserve mobility by bending your knees slightly and keeping your head facing straight forward. Pulling your knees up to chest and bending your neck down can be taxing on your lower back, neck, and shoulder muscles. Keeping your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line helps you wake up with loose, relaxed joints.
Aside from choosing a healthy sleeping position, you can also improve your mobility by introducing stretching to your nightly routine. There are a number of stretches you can perform before bed that will help your muscles to relax and your joints to stay flexible. In a blogpost called “Common Myths About Mobility,” Dr. Jen Fit states that stretching should be used to combat stiffness in certain muscles. Before choosing a stretch, identify which of your muscles feel the tightest when you wake up each morning. Then, choose a stretch that addresses your specific needs.
According to Sleep Advisor, one of the most popular stretches involves lying flat on your back on the floor or mattress and then gently bringing your knees up to your chest, one at a time. If you breathe slowly and remain relaxed during this stretch, it can help to increase spine flexibility and relieve lower back pain. Another option is to sit on the floor with your legs crossed, and then extend each arm over your head while leaning slowly to each side. Continue deepening the movement until you feel the muscles in your sides stretch. You can also stretch your thighs by sitting on the floor with your legs extended straight ahead. Bring both legs toward you until you can put the bottoms of your feet together. With your knees pointed out to each side, slowly lean your torso forward, keeping your spine straight.
Adopting healthy sleeping positions and stretching well before bed are both practices that can help you to promote mobility and remain physically flexible. If you wake up feeling stiff or sore, you might benefit from experimenting with a different position or with trying out a few easy poses before you fall asleep. Consider today how changing your sleep habits could help you to rest better and stay active.