If you’ve been struggling to squeeze more physical activity into your daily routine, these easy before bed exercises can help you stretch out and tone your muscles. You may think that your comfy and cozy bed is counterintuitive to getting a good workout, but in fact, the soft surface will stimulate your smaller stabilizing muscles and your core. This may actually help support mobility, balance, core stability, and muscle tone.1
Give this easy bed workout a try, and you might find yourself getting a good night’s sleep, and waking up even better each day, too.
Myths About Exercising Before Bed: Will It Compromise Sleep Quality?
It’s true that high-impact or intense aerobic activity raises your heart rate and body temperature, which could perk you up too much right before you hit the hay. However, these simple stretches and basic bed workouts aren’t as high-intensity as your usual gym workout, so you shouldn’t really encounter any impact on your sleep quality.2
Also, research shows that exercise, in general, does contribute to better sleep in the long run.3 You may want to try these easy moves before bed to see how they affect your body. And, if you find yourself getting too hyped up to get some shuteye, try these active bed exercises in the morning right before rolling out of bed.
Effective Exercises You Can Try Tonight
Happy Baby Pose
This easy stretch derived from yoga may help promote blood flow and augment any other relaxation exercises you do before sleeping.
- Lie flat on your back. Bring both knees up to your chest. Grip your feet with your hands (or grasp one big toe each hand).
- Slowly open your knees wide while simultaneously pulling the soles of your feet towards the ceiling. Keep your back flat against the bed. Make sure your ankles form a straight line with your knees, which should be bent while keeping legs perpendicular to the floor.
- Hold, and feel the stretch in your hip and groin area for 20-30 seconds. Take deep breaths for good measure. Release gently, and rest.4
Straight Leg Lifts
This movement helps target and strengthen your quadriceps, the large muscles in your thighs. Straight leg lifts may help support your knee strength.
- Lie flat on your back with legs stretched out in front of you. Keep your feet flexed, with your toes pointing towards the ceiling.
- Slowly lift one leg up, forming a 90-degree angle to your body. Keep your other leg and lower back steady on the bed.
- Hold for a beat before gently lowering your leg back on the bed. Repeat with the other leg, alternating for about 20 repetitions per set.
Variations you can try: Lifting the leg about 45 degrees and doing small circles; or lifting a leg bent at the knee.5
Make sure you keep your core engaged and that you breathe evenly and deeply throughout this move.
- Lie flat on your back. Draw up your legs, and place your feet flat on the bed. Your knees should be bent and your legs positioned hip-width apart.
- Lift up your tailbone, and use your core and thigh muscles to slowly lift your hips up. Form a straight line from your shoulder (still flat on your bed), down your back, to your hips and knees.
- Keep your buttocks muscles tight as you hold this position for about 30 seconds. Gently lower your body back on the bed.6
The twisting variation adds a bit more of a challenge to your regular abdominal crunch, while also targeting more of your core muscles.
- Lie flat on your back. Perform your basic crunch — use your core muscles or abs to pull your shoulders and bent knees up off the mattress.
- Hold the crunch position, then slowly twist your shoulders to your left side. Simultaneously extend your lifted right leg straight out. Switch to the opposite side by twisting the other way and stretching out your right leg.
- Go back to your starting position before repeating for your desired number of reps.7
This before bed exercise may seem simple, but it can get tiring. Figure out what size of circles work with your comfort level the best — smaller, speedier circles might suit you, or you may prefer larger, slower circles for a more challenging workout.
- Lie flat on your back, and extend both arms out on either side.
- Move your straight arms in circles, pretending to trace circles on either side of you using your outstretched fingers. Keep making circles for about 20 seconds.
- Reverse the movement for another 20 seconds before lowering your arms.8
Loosen up tight shoulders and get a good stretch. Make sure your head is flat on the mattress and not propped up on a pillow for this exercise.
- Lie flat on your back, with your head flat on the bed. Scrunch up your shoulders around your ears.
- Then, contract your shoulder blades by squeezing them together. This pulls your shoulders back against the bed. Close out the movement by rolling your shoulders all the way back and down, before rolling them forward and up against your ears once more.
- Do five repetitions before reversing the movement for another 5 reps. Roll your shoulders in a downwards and forwards movement instead.9
Safety and Precautions
It’s always in your best interest and safety to consult with a doctor before attempting any new exercises. If you’re iffy about exercising on your mattress, consider doing the moves on a yoga mat laid out beside your bed instead.