Can't sleep? Try these yoga stretches before bed to unwind and ease tension

This 12-minute evening yoga routine will help you get more restful sleep

Woman holding yoga pose at home at night
(Image credit: Cavan Images / Getty Images)

Doing a few yoga poses at the end of the day is an excellent way to relax your muscles, calm your mind and prepare yourself for a restful night. Yoga is a mindful activity and it can be a useful tool to help you sweep away any worries, so you’re not lying awake stressing about things.

Stretching before bed can release built-up tension from the day, especially in your back, hips and shoulders, whether that’s from sitting at a desk, cooking and driving or using your phone.

This 12-minute yoga session comes from Bre Neidhammer of Breathe and Flow, the popular yoga YouTube channel with close to four million subscribers. It’s the first of a seven-part evening yoga series for a full week of bedtime relaxation. The first two sessions are free on YouTube, but if you want to try the other five, you need to subscribe to Breathe and Flow.

In the video, Neidhammer says, "This is a quick and effective full-body movement routine that you can do to wind down the end of your day, prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep and end your day with gratitude."

How to do this relaxing evening yoga routine

First, prepare yourself by wearing something comfortable—your PJs will do just fine. You don’t need a mat, a reasonably comfy surface like a floor rug will do, and you won’t need any props at all for this session, except perhaps a blanket to wrap yourself in at the end.

Make sure you are in a calming space. "Dim down the lights, light some candles, put on some calming music," says Neidhammer.

All the poses are relaxing and will stretch out different areas of your body. The series begins with some gentle cat-cow stretches to get your back moving followed by a calf stretch and then into a satisfying side bend, which should release tension in your hips, ribs and back.

The sphinx pose allows you to get a lovely stretch in the front of the body, and the spinal extension undoes the hunching forward we tend to do during the day. Restorative poses such as puppy pose and child’s pose allow the back and hips to stretch out, then a gentle twist brings some lovely relief to the spine. Finally, the cross-legged forward bend and butterfly pose (seated with feet together and knees wide) allow you to soften and relax your back and feel a stretch in the hips.

You’ll finish cross-legged, wrapped in a blanket if you wish, for some restorative deep breaths. After all that stretching and deep breathing, there's every chance you'll feel wonderfully relaxed and calm, ready for a good night’s sleep.

Not sure which to buy? Our guide to the best yoga mats can help you decide.

Contributing writer

Camilla Artault is a fitness writer with a passion for running and yoga. She interviews experts and writes about a wide range of topics for Fit&Well encompassing health, fitness and nutrition.