Wake Up Sleepy Head!
You know the feeling, you try to get out of bed but your body feels stiff and slow to move. It’s hard enough not to hit the snooze button one more time without your body screaming at you to stay still.
You might wonder why, since you’ve been resting for +/- 7 hours. How can relaxing in Dreamland under your cozy covers be ache-producing?
Your muscles and connective tissues are still working while you sleep. They hold you in your various positions for the hours you are in bed. And all the aches and pains you have while you are up and about? Those factor in, too.
Here are three common sleep positions and their potential body-stiffening effects:
The Belly Sleeper: Your back can arch as your body weight sinks into the bed, which turns on your low back muscles. Your shoulders will tend to creep up by your ears which activates your shrugging muscles. Your head will be turned to one side for extended periods making the muscles that rotate your noggin cranky.
The Side Sleeper: Your hip flexor, elbow and shoulder muscles are doing the work of keeping your hips bent and head cradled by your arm. Or if you sleep with your arms by your sides, your shoulder joint can be internally rotated as your arm is pinned under your body.
Just like sitting all day activates the hip flexing muscles, sleeping in this position reinforces the pattern. And that pinned arm or elevated shoulders? Good morning stiff neck!
The Back Sleeper: Your toes are pointed down with the pressure of the covers on top, which turns on the calf muscles. You don’t wear high heels or run, yet you still suffer with Plantar Fasciitis? This could be the reason why!
As a Back Sleeper, you might have your arms overhead which can elevate your shoulders. Or perhaps your arms are resting at your sides. Chances are your palms face downward while your shoulders internally rotate. Both of these scenarios can be contributing to the tight, tense sensations in your upper body.
Begin your morning by trying these three targeted stretches in your kitchen to unwind your tight muscles. Hold each stretch in a pain free range for 30 seconds before moving onto the next. Be sure to maintain relaxed breathing, focusing on expanding into your rib cage as you inhale and releasing tension on your exhale. View the links to some basic videos (complete with unicorn slippers and an adorable dog) to help you get started).
- Kitchen Sink: To unwind your tight back, shoulder and side body muscles, grab onto the rim of the sink with both hands. Send your hips back, with your knees “unlocked” (not super straight, but not super bent). Push your butt back while pulling on the sink. Hold for 30 seconds. Next, add a gentle twist by bending into your left knee. Rotate your torso so you can look under your right arm. Keep your left knee straight or unlocked. Let your left ear rest on your left biceps. Hold for 30 seconds. Avoid shrugging your shoulders. Repeat on the other side.
- Fridge: To loosen tight hip flexors, start by standing with the fridge on your right side. Now, reach your left arm up and over head to grab onto the fridge. Push down through your left foot while pulling upwards with your left hand. Gently push your left hip away from the fridge. Let your right arm rest by your side. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Coffee Pot: To lengthen those chronically flexed night-time calves, begin by holding onto the counter while you watch your coffee brew. Next, bring your right leg forward and left leg back behind you. Bend into your right knee, and gently push your left heel towards the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Add these movements for an extra wake up call to your muscles:
- Cafe Circles: After you do your coffee pot calf stretches, hold onto to counter for support and stand on your left leg. Keep your knee “unlocked”. Lifting your right foot off the floor slightly, begin to make circles with your right ankle, first in one direction and then the other. Point and flex your foot. Aim for 5-10 repetitions of each. Repeat on the other side. (I recommend taking your slippers off for this one)
- Breakfast Backstroke: Starting with your arms in front of you, bringing your palms together. Raise your arms above your head and turn your palms outward so your knuckles are now touching. Avoid shrugging your shoulders. Separating your hands and float your arms back down to your start position. Repeat 5-10 times.
As with any physical movements, check with your doctor to make sure they are appropriate for you.
Learn more about how your sleep positions affect your health: Berkeley Wellness
About the author:
Kerry Ann Madden is a NASM Certified Master Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Coach and Corrective Exercise Specialist. She can be reached at Kerry.firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook or IDEA Fit
Many thanks to the amazing photographers at Unsplash.com who generously shared their cool pics shown above.
Even more gratitude goes to Andy P, editor and videographer extraordinaire! We hope our beginner/rough videos gave you a smile.
Most of all… a special thanks to Cody for her guest appearances in the video content.