In our modern age, no quest is more pertinent or important than the one for sleep. Better sleep, that is. So like infants learning to sleep through the night all over again, we try to improve our sleep hygiene and bedroom routines: turning off the electronics, making sure the room is dark, lying down at the same time every night, and so on. For a truly good night’s sleep, however, we also need to look at what we’re doing the rest of the day, and fixing one of the most common problems we all have: sedentary lifestyles.
A lot of us sit at a desk all day, and while we can certainly be proud of our dedication to our hard work, the fact of the matter is that it’s also playing havoc with our health. Bending toward a screen strains our neck and upper back. Fluid builds up in our limbs thanks to lack of movement. And constant sitting makes our hip flexors tighten up, and tight hip flexors lead to lack of sleep. So what can we do? Stretch them out! Here’s how.
- Find a wall and large book or block you can use. Lie on your back, support your pelvis on the book, and press your left foot against the wall.
- Fold your right knee and draw in toward your chest. Hold and stretch for 1 minute.
- Switch and repeat on the left side.
So why does this stretch help our sleep? First, it relieves the kind of tension that generally makes us feel stressed, restless and uncomfortable. More importantly, your deep hip flexors are connected to your lower backbone and – this one’s key – your diaphragm. So a short and tight hip flexor affects your ability to breathe deeply, which, in turn, affects your sleep. So a stretched hip flexor means deep breathing, and deep breathing means great sleep.
Watch the full demonstration and explanation from OWN’s Jill Miller, then go stretch and get a great night’s sleep!