The average American sleeps for eight hours every night, and during those hours, we do things in our sleep that will affect the other 16 hours of the day. Whether you sleep on your arm in a funny way and wake up with numbness, or find a kink in your neck at daybreak, we've all been there and know that a proper, gentle sleep can make all the difference.
As a fascia expert, I'm here to talk about the connection between Fascia and sleep, and how we can start sleeping better today, so we can start living a healthy, pain-free life tomorrow.
For arm-over-head sleepers, try ...
... a crab walk
Hands face away from the body and press firm into the floor, feet anchor to the floor. Squeeze glutes and press hips until front of the body is a table top. Hold the position with chin pressed to chest and breath deeply.
... stretching the longus capitis
Lay on the floor and press hands towards feet and press feet into floor (knees will be bent). Retract the chin (avoid opening jaw), lift head off floor and curl chin to chest. Maintain arm and leg tension as you reverse the move to uncurl the chin from chest, lowering your head to floor. Finally, release neck retraction. Repeat six times. Make sure to exhale fully and avoid holding your breath.
... stretching the SCM
Lay on the floor as your hands reach for heels. Feet press firmly into floor. Retract chin and tilt head to one side (without turning your neck). Hold the end point of the stretch and return to start before releasing neck retraction.
... stretching the shoulders
In a doorway, press one forearm into the door frame at 90 degrees,with both feet on the floor and head reaching up to ceiling. Step forward to feel stretch until you reach a feeling that can be held for 30 seconds. Breath is connected to the shoulder, so deep expansive breathing will help release the fascia during this hold. Do each arm individually to allow for more release on the tighter side.
For fetal position sleepers, try ...
... kneeling lean backs
Kneeling on a comfortable surface with knees hip width apart, squeeze glutes and isometrically squeeze the knees toward one another. Lean back until the burn feels intense. Make sure your low back is flat. Return to start position after holding as long as able.
... stretching the rectus femoris
Lying prone (on your stomach), pull the heel of one foot to the buttock and press the held foot into your hands. Keep both hips firm on the floor and hold for 30 seconds. Release and switch feet, repeat.
... stretching the psoas
Kneel down and make sure your back heel is turned out. Squeeze glutes as tight as possible and press hip forward without arching your low back, keeping your spine long. Add tension in the arms by either pressing toward the floor or out in front of the torso. Hold for 60 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
For leg-up-and-out sleepers, try ...
... stretching the lumbar curve
Stand against a wall, feet pressed into the floor. Arch your back so it separates off the wall, then reverse the curve and press the entire back into the wall, holding the entire body tense as you perform this stretch.
... stretching the quadratus lumborum
In child's pose, press the shin firm into the floor and tuck pelvis under. Reach to each side with one hand on top of the other while keeping both hips connected to the heels. Breath is important here, so make sure to expand the rib cage and empty the lungs fully on exhale.
For stomach sleepers ...
... try a hard roll
Lay on your stomach and tense your entire body. Lift your right arm and right leg one inch off the floor, while pressing your left side firmly into the floor. Cross the right side past the mid-line reaching for the floor on the opposite side (don't thrust the limbs — this is done in control). Hold for eight seconds, then switch sides.
Of note: Fascia gives a unique response to release that some people describe as gushing water or intense release. However you may feel the fascial release repeat the movement and the range and freedom will be improved.
Photos courtesy of author