sleep better

5 Nighttime Exercises to Help You Sleep

After a long day of work, taking care of the kids or just running errands it’s important to know how to unwind in the evening.  While some people choose to perform intense cardio in the evening, it’s definitely not the best way to help your body relax and prepare for a peaceful night’s slumber.  There are, however, exercises you can do that will not only help tone and strengthen your body, but also help prepare you for a good night’s sleep.

Susie Karvelis, Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) certified  and co-owner of SoBe Pilates in Miamai Beach, has developed the perfect nightime exercise regimen.  Try these exercises to calm down after a long day of work or even right before bed! You will notice improved flexibility and increased strength after only a few weeks! Here are some of Susie’s tips:

Find a relaxing breathing pattern and focus on your breath.

  1. Wind Down Warrior: (opens hips, strengthens the quads, glutes and torso) stand with feet wide apart and lunge forward with your front leg, pointing your front toes straight ahead, turn your back toes in slightly.  The lunging knee should be over the toes and the back leg should be straight; your back foot should stay flat on the ground.  Extend your arms high overhead, lifting through the chest and heart. Take four to six deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
  2. Side Planks: (strengthens and stretches the oblique and shoulder muscles): lie on your side with your legs to the right side, place your left hand on the floor – directly below the shoulder.  For balance, stack the feet or keep the bottom knee on the floor as you lift your body off the floor.  Keep the core tight and engage your abdominals as you extend the right arm up toward the ceiling.  Keep the body in one plane and hold for up to 8 seconds and lower back down. Repeat eight to 10 times on each side.
  3. Crane: (stretches hamstrings, deltoids, pectorals and back muscles): stand with your hands interlaced behind your back and bend at the hips into a forward bend; drop your forehead to your knees.  Keep a slight bend in the knees if your hamstrings/back of your legs feels tight.  Stretch your arms up toward the ceiling to feel a slight stretch throughout the chest and hold for 20 seconds. Release and repeat six to eight times.
  4. Cow/Cat Stretch: (strengthens and stretches the abdominals and spine): start on all fours with your knees under the hips and wrists under the shoulders.  Round your back up toward the ceiling and drop your head and look for your belly button (CAT). Next, look up and arch your back as you extend through the whole spine (COW). Repeat eight to 10 times and inhale as you move into one stretch and exhale as you move into the next.
  5. Wall Pose: (stretches legs and feet): calm your mind and body with the final relaxation pose.  Lie on your back with legs on the wall or on the side of your bed/couch at a 90° angle. Extend both legs in the air and straighten the knees as much as you can. Relax your arms at your sides and close your eyes as you breathe deeply for 30 seconds.

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