It’s no secret that adequate sleep is crucial to promoting good health and immune function. The classic advice of getting “8 hours a day” hasn’t changed much, and there are countless studies to back up the fact that more sleep equals better overall health.
If you’re a highly active individual exercising several times a week, sleep allows the body to repair torn muscles, as well as replacing stored glycogen that has been depleted during your workouts. Lack of sleep can lower the bodies ability to respond to pathogens, hence why we can be more susceptible to sickness when we haven’t been sleeping well. On the flip side, sleep can be a great remedy if one is sick, allowing the body to fight the virus while the rest of your functions are in “shut down” mode.
Many factors go into how well one sleeps (i.e. alcohol, stress, breathing passage disruption), but often overlooked is the stretching and relaxation of tight muscles, particularly after strenuous exercise. For myself, I find that if I have not stretched enough following a workout or run, the subsequent tightness in my legs, back and shoulders has a dramatic impact on how I sleep. Muscle tightness can leave one feeling “wound up”, resulting in the need to adjust bed position in order to alleviate the tightness, thus causing sleep disruption by tossing and turning.
Try this routine for a week, and monitor how you slept the following morning. 30 minutes before bed, run through a selection of the below stretches and hold each for 10-20 seconds, or until you feel the muscle release. Repeat several times through.