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7 Simple Exercises to Help You Get to Sleep

by
author image Andrea Speir
Pilates instructor Andrea Speir is the star of two top-selling DVDs, “Trim, Tighten and Tone” (2014) and “Perfect Pilates Body” (2013). Speir Pilates, her first studio, is located in Santa Monica, CA and fuses classical Pilates with modern cardio and intense circuit training.

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7 Simple Exercises to Help You Get to Sleep
Dusty Saunders

Sleep. Sometimes a glorious word, sometimes one that inspires anxiety. As someone who has always suffered from mild insomnia, I can tell you from firsthand experience that hitting the sheets is something I have to prepare for. One of the only things that has always helped me sleep (besides a spoonful of almond butter and a hot shower!) is 10 minutes of elongating Pilates. The moves stretch out your muscles, relieve tension, improve circulation and focus your thoughts. So unroll your mat or find a carpeted area and take these 10 minutes for yourself.

1. Full Roll-Up
Dusty Saunders

1 FULL ROLL-UP

SET-UP: Lie flat on your back with your heels tightly together and arms reaching up toward the ceiling. HOW TO DO IT: Reach your arms back toward your ears. Inhale, curl your body up and reach toward your toes. Exhale, then round back down to the mat, reaching back toward your ears. Repeat 10 times. TIP: If you feel like you’re “whipping” your body up, hold on behind your thighs to help round up with your core muscles.

2. Full Rollover
Dusty Saunders

2 FULL ROLLOVER

SET-UP: Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides. HOW TO DO IT: Engage your abs and lift your legs up and over your head, reaching your toes toward the mat. Press your toes into the mat, giving yourself a nice stretch in your back (this is similar to a plow position in yoga). Then open your legs hip-distance apart and roll back down, stopping at 45 degrees. Perform 10 reps. TIP: Press down with your hands to keep your shoulders planted. Only lift your legs to a position that's comfortable.

3. Bridge (1)
Dusty Saunders

3 BRIDGE (1)

SET-UP: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart and flat on the floor. Your arms are long by your sides and your heels should almost touch your fingertips. HOW TO DO IT: Roll your hips vertebra by vertebra up toward the ceiling. Roll your hips back down, from upper ribs to lower ribs to tailbone. Do 10 reps. TIP: If you want even more of a stretch, extending a leg up toward the ceiling at the top of the bridge.

4. Bridge (2)
Dusty Saunders

4 BRIDGE (2)

SET-UP: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and hip-distance apart. Your arms should be long by your sides and your heels should almost touch your fingertips. HOW TO DO IT: Extend one leg up toward the ceiling. Lower and lift your hips eight times. Switch legs and repeat. TIP: Focus on lengthening your spine the entire time.

5. Control Balance
Dusty Saunders

5 CONTROL BALANCE

SET-UP: Lie on your back and bring your legs up and over your head and touch your toes to the floor/mat behind your head -- or as close as you can get them! HOW TO DO IT: Reach one leg up toward the ceiling, then lower that leg back down. Reach the opposite leg up toward the ceiling and lower that leg back down. Do 10 reps on each side. TIP: The deeper you engage the abs, the more balance you’ll have. Press your hands into the floor to help control the movement. Lengthen from the tips of your toes to fully stretch your body throughout the exercise.

6. Swan
Dusty Saunders

6 SWAN

SET-UP: Lie flat on your stomach with your hands stacked palm-over-palm under your head like a pillow. Legs are extended long with the feet together. HOW TO DO IT: Pull the abdominals in and lift your head and upper body with your hands still connected to your forehead. Lower back down. Think about lengthening from the top of your head instead of arching up with your back. Visualize growing three inches taller as you do this. Perform 10 reps.

7. Pigeon
Dusty Saunders

7 PIGEON

SET-UP: Sit with one leg bent in front of you and the other leg straight back behind you. HOW TO DO IT: Stretch forward and lean your body over your front leg, resting your head on your bent arms like a pillow. Hold the stretch for one minute. Switch legs and repeat. TIP: Totally relax your body and mind. Focus on deep, full breaths. Hold the position for one minute on each side. Let your mind slow down and think about nothing but your breathing. You're now ready for a full night of sleep!

What Do YOU Think?
Dusty Saunders

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you have trouble getting to sleep? What are some natural tips and tricks that help you? What’s your nightly routine? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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